The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) (enacted April 20, 2005), made several significant changes to the United States Bankruptcy Code. Prior to BAPCPA, it was easy to go online for forms and prepare your own filing. Now, the Means Test, limitations on restructuring debt, repeat filing limitations, and forms has created a series of pitfalls for the self (or pro se) filer. While filing pro se is possible, we do not recommend it. While anyone can fill out forms, mistakes can be costly. Reasons why you may want to hire a bankruptcy attorney include:
Not knowing the law can cost you. While you may be able to fill out the necessary paperwork to start your bankruptcy case, are you confident that you sufficiently understand bankruptcy law to protect your property? For example, filing the wrong type of bankruptcy may fail to prevent creditor actions such as foreclosures, resulting in the possible loss of your home. Do not risk your property to try and save a buck.
Filing bankruptcy without an attorney can cause your case to fail for technical reasons. Once your case is dismissed, it may be difficult to get your case refiled in bankruptcy court. If your case is thrown out on a technicality, creditors will be able to execute and go after your assets to satisfy outstanding debts.
Understanding the Bankruptcy Code can be difficult without the requisite study or experience.Bankruptcy has become more and more complicated since the passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act in 2005. You are now required to fill out numerous forms and follow a variety of procedures to ensure that your case continues in court without difficulty. Even for judges and attorneys, parts of the Bankruptcy Code are ambiguous, so knowledge of bankruptcy case law is essential to comply with the necessary rules.
The Internet is not a substitute for legal advice from an attorney. While you may be able to find bankruptcy overviews and books containing bankruptcy worksheets on the Internet, you should keep in mind that many bankruptcy self-help tools do not take into account particulars of Alabama law. You do not want to risk losing your property because you followed the wrong guidelines promoted by a self-help tool from another state!
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