Can You File Bankruptcy without a Lawyer in Pennsylvania?

You know the old joke: a man who represents himself has a fool for an attorney. In many proceedings, both civil and criminal, private individuals may serve as their own legal counsel. When it comes to bankruptcy, however, the rules are slightly different. Corporations and partnerships must retain legal advocates to act on their behalf. Private individuals, and my extension sole proprietors, may still opt to go it alone. Doing so can be a bad decision on top of a mountain of other financial problems. Being on the brink of financial ruin can make people believe they can’t afford a bankruptcy attorney (you definitely can), but opting to tackle the court without legal help is almost never advisable.

man upset after looking at card statement.

Long-Term Financial Consequences

The rules of a bankruptcy filing are highly technical. A single error can affect your rights and allow your creditors to resume their pursuit of your personal assets, including your home or other property. You don’t want a missed line on a form to be the reason the court rejects your appeal for protection. Additionally, it’s difficult for you to gauge the long-term financial consequences of going through the bankruptcy process because your current situation clouds your judgment. You just want to be out of debt — that’s an understandable goal. An attorney reviewing your documents and accounts may be able to recommend a better path that doesn’t involve bankruptcy. You could be out of debt sooner and emerge with a healthier credit rating than by simply allowing the court to sell off your assets and leaving your creditors in the lurch for the balances.

Filing Deadlines are Usually Immovable

If the court wants your documents returned by the 15th of the month, and you rush to the clerk’s office on the 16th, it’s too late. Filing deadlines are usually set in stone, and the court has ruled time and again that it lacks the authority to retroactively move your deadline date. You have a life to live: getting to work, picking up the kids, making dinner, trying to pay bills. Getting paperwork into the court a day late only makes sense in light of the other obligations you’re dealing with, but in a judge’s eyes, it appears as though you’re not taking your situation seriously. By having a bankruptcy lawyer working for you, you have someone on your side who makes it their business to get your paperwork in on time and filled out correctly.

Making Deals You Don’t Understand

Creditors may approach you throughout the bankruptcy process with promises of favorable terms to settle your debts and remove them from the filing. Agreeing to terms to repay your debts without consulting an attorney isn’t advisable because you simply might not fully understand the terms before you seal the deal. The last thing you want is to end up in another crushing financial situation. A lawyer working for you has a duty to act in your best interests, and if a creditor’s proposal isn’t favorable to you, they’re going to reject it for you.

If you’re ready to stop the creditor collection calls and get your credit back on track, bankruptcy may be the best solution for you. Call our law offices today to discuss your debt issues in private with an experienced Mount Laurel bankruptcy lawyer. We’ll work to find the most effective means for you to ease the anxiety and get out from under this crippling debt.

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