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National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys

We are a federally designated Debt Relief Agency under the United States Bankruptcy Laws. We assist people with finding solutions to their debt problems, including, where appropriate, assisting with the filing of petitions for relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Gambling on Your Future: The Perils of a “Do-It-Yourself” Bankruptcy

First, let’s set the scene…..

So it has come to this; after months of headaches and struggling to make payments, you have decided that bankruptcy may be the only recourse left to get a handle on your debt and move forward with your financial life. Then you ask yourself: “Now how again do I actually go about filing for bankruptcy?” If you answer that question with a Google search (as many people do) then you will instantly be overwhelmed by the thousands and thousands of results, most of them from attorneys advertising their services. After doing some more research you are becoming discouraged; you didn’t know it was this expensive to file for bankruptcy. There are so many fees: attorney fees, credit counseling fees, court filing fees. But then you notice another website, one advertising a “Do-It-Yourself” bankruptcy. Just buy these forms, fill them out with the attached instructions, and you could take care of your entire bankruptcy by yourself. And for only $29.95! I mean, what could possibly go wrong? Remember, if something sounds too good to be true…… usually is.

…..a little honest disclosure….

To be fair, hiring an attorney is not the only way to seek debt relief, in fact, it may not even be the best option. Selecting a bankruptcy attorney is usually a last resort as there are plenty of other possibilities including credit counseling, personally negotiating with creditors, and yes, even pursuing a so called “do-it-yourself” bankruptcy. These businesses wouldn’t exist if a “do-it-yourself” bankruptcy was NEVER successful. However, you have to determine for yourself how much value you will obtain from a fresh financial start and if risking that fresh start on a “do-it-yourself” form is a gamble you’re willing to take.

…..some cold, hard, facts…..

Let’s start out with what you DO get from a “do-it-yourself” bankruptcy. You will get the proper forms you need to file (that you could probably get cheaper by buying them directly from the courthouse) along with generic instructions on how to fill them out. Now what DON’T they provide. These websites CANNOT give you any legal advice on what type of bankruptcy you qualify for (yes there are rules), which type of bankruptcy you should file, what your best option is to save your home, what property will you be allowed to keep, and the list could go on and on. Bottom line, you will not get advice on any of the legal questions you may have; only a licensed attorney can do that. Furthermore a “do-it-yourself” bankruptcy CANNOT guarantee your filing will be successful, that you will actually settle your debts or even that your filing will be free of errors. REMEMBER, if your filing contains any errors whatsoever, the bankruptcy court can throw out your case and then…….you’re right back to where you started, only with a little more money out-of-pocket and an even bigger headache.

…..getting warmer…..

An experienced bankruptcy attorney will be able to answer all of your questions and safely guide you through the bankruptcy maze and into your debt-free future. It is always encouraged to at least seek out legal advice before choosing the option that is right for you. Many attorneys have free initial consultations (or at least a relatively low fee) so what’s the harm in scheduling an appointment? At the very least it will make you feel more comfortable about the debt solution you do choose.

…..and finally

Our American Legal System gives each and every one of us the right to represent ourselves in a court of law, without an attorney. However, bankruptcy, just like any other area of law, is extraordinarily complex and difficult to maneuver through if you have not spent years learning how. A final question: If you were unlucky enough to find yourself in a criminal trial, you wouldn’t risk your personal freedom by refusing to hire an attorney, just to save a buck – why wouldn’t you do the same for your financial freedom?

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Brea, CA 92821

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