Why You Need a Lawyer to File for Bankruptcy

Can you file for bankruptcy in Ohio without a lawyer? Yes. But should you? Probably not. While many focus on bankruptcy being a financial restart, the reality is that bankruptcy has financial and legal outcomes that will last for a long time. To avoid making mistakes in paperwork or not supplying all the information you need, it’s imperative to have a lawyer on your side when you file for bankruptcy in Ohio.

Questions Your Bankruptcy Attorney Can Answer

According to the United States Courts, court employees and bankruptcy judges are prohibited by law from offering legal advice during your filing. However, there are likely to be questions that you need to be answered that a bankruptcy lawyer can assist you with. Common questions include:

  • Should you file a bankruptcy petition?
  • What chapter should you file under?
  • What debts, if any, can be discharged?
  • Will you be able to keep your home, car, or other property upon filing?
  • What are the tax consequences?
  • Should you continue to pay creditors?
  • What are the legalities and procedures of bankruptcy filings?
  • How should you complete and file forms?

The Dangers of Filing Bankruptcy Pro Se

Filing bankruptcy pro se simply means you have decided to file bankruptcy without an attorney. Though you have decided to tackle your case alone, you will still be expected to follow the rules and procedures of the United States Bankruptcy Code, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, and any local regulations in place.

It is important to remember that when filing for bankruptcy, a variety of factors are at play.

  • Are you married or single?
  • Are filing as a nonindividual (and instead as a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company)?
  • Are you a sole proprietor?
  • Are you married but not filing jointly?

When filing bankruptcy pro se, the only counsel you receive is that of a non-attorney petition preparer. These individuals by law can only enter your information into the bankruptcy forms. They cannot give you legal advice, explain any answers to legal questions, or assist you in court.

While these are the legalities of filing alone, there are also common mistakes that can occur.

Some of the most common mistakes made when filing bankruptcy pro se include:

  • Filing the wrong paperwork or doing it incorrectly
  • Failing to declare all debts
  • Failing to declare all assets
  • Misunderstanding Ohio bankruptcy exemptions
  • Misunderstanding what is allowed and what is not during the bankruptcy process
  • Filing for the wrong bankruptcy chapter

If you are filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may need an attorney who can design a proposed repayment plan, work through mortgages and car loans, and help you come up with a plan to pay back nondischargeable priority debts like back taxes or support arrears.

If you are filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, though more common, it too has its own unique issues. If you own a business, have an income above the median level of Ohio, or significant assets, you may risk having your case dismissed.

Filing for bankruptcy is not only a technical process, but it can be an emotional one. If you are unfamiliar with the laws and procedures, you run the risk of doing a disservice to your case. In addition to just knowing what Ohio bankruptcy forms you need to fill out, you also need to consider the time it takes to complete it all. Many people forget it’s not just the forms you need to supply, it’s the court hearings, trustee appointments, dealing with creditors, and more.

If you simply are not comfortable with the filing process, you most likely are better off utilizing the services of a bankruptcy attorney.

Don’t File Pro Se: File Bankruptcy With The Jones Law Firm in Columbus and Central Ohio

There are a number of things in this life we can technically do–but it doesn’t mean we should. While you can file for bankruptcy without an attorney, we recommend you don’t. Instead, let The Jones Law Firm help you through the process.

With offices in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, The Jones Law Firm works with clients in and around Columbus and throughout central Ohio. Contact The Jones Law Firm today to speak about your specific situation and how we can help you.