How To File Bankruptcy Yourself, A Cautionary Tale

In our day and age of DIY everything, it may seem like filing for bankruptcy yourself is the way to go. You may think, “My case isn’t that complicated. I could probably do it on my own. I have a buddy down that street that can help me.” Tread wisely! Filing for bankruptcy means huge changes in your life. And if it’s not done correctly, it could really cost you, and not just financially.

Of course, being a bankruptcy law firm, we always recommend working with a professional when filing for bankruptcy. You may think we’re biased, but here are some very important reasons why it is best to avoid DIY bankruptcy.

  1. It is very risky. You wouldn’t do your own dentistry, don’t do your own legal work. Some things in life just require an expert.
  2. It could hurt your family. If you don’t know what to look for, you could end up getting family members sued by a trustee to recover money you repaid to those family members.
  3. You could loose everything. The most confusing part for debtors who file on their own are claiming exemptions. This is a very nuanced area of law, and if it’s not done properly you could lose everything you own.
  4. It could cost you. It usually costs twice as much to fix a bankruptcy someone else filed as it does to file it right the first time.

We usually tell this old lawyer joke to unconvinced clients to help convey the benefits of using a bankruptcy lawyer:

“The huge printing presses of a major Chicago newspaper began malfunctioning on the Saturday before Christmas, putting all the revenue for advertising that was to appear in the Sunday paper in jeopardy. None of the technicians could track down the problem. Finally, a frantic call was made to the retired printer who had worked with these presses for over 40 years. ‘We’ll pay anything; just come in and fix them,’ he was told. When he arrived, he walked around for a few minutes, surveying the presses; then he approached one of the control panels and opened it. He removed a dime from his pocket, turned a screw 1/4 of a turn, and said, ‘The presses will now work correctly.’ After being profusely thanked, he was told to submit a bill for his work. The bill arrived a few days later, for $10,000.00! Not wanting to pay such a huge amount for so little work, the printer was told to please itemize his charges, with the hope that he would reduce the amount once he had to identify his services. The revised bill arrived: $1.00 for turning the screw; $9,999.00 for knowing which screw to turn.”

When you hire a bankruptcy attorney, you’re not just hiring someone to type up forms, you’re hiring them for their knowledge. There are many things that could come up during your bankruptcy that you just won’t know how to handle, but an experienced professional will.

That’s why, if you’re in the West Michigan area, you should call us at Mapes Law Offices. We help hundreds of clients file for bankruptcy every year. But what really sets us apart? Attorneys in Michigan are not required to do continuing education, but at Mapes Law Offices we require our attorneys to complete 30 hours of continuing education every year. And with laws changing all of this time, we think this is an important step that we take to ensure our clients get the best representation possible.

If you’re facing a bankruptcy, give us a call today at (616) 719-3847 or request your free consultation. This could be the step you take that leads you toward financial freedom.