Filing for Bankruptcy in NYC Without an Attorney

To me, filing your bankruptcy in New York without the help of an experienced attorney is much like sensing your car brakes seem a bit off and fixing them yourself…on the side of the freeway…with no tools…at night…drunk.

In others words, its ridiculous. And I’m not just saying this because I am a Bankruptcy attorney and lecture on Bankruptcy Law (shameless plug…www.lawline.com). I am saying this because not heeding this advice can lead to disastrous consequences. I have recently had a few clients who have come to me after filing their bankruptcies with the “local guy who does bankruptcies.” A rather new phenomenon, the “local guy” is never an attorney and typically he is referred by other poor souls who he has tricked into paying absurd sums of money with horrific results. The “local guy” does not know how much equity in your vehicle you can exempt, whether the Trustee will likely take your house, the relevant Median Income Test limitations, etc. He knows absolutely nothing about Bankruptcy…no matter what he may say to argue otherwise.

He will also usually give you a speech about how an attorney does very little in a Bankruptcy case. Oh, and they also tend to charge as much if not MORE than an attorney. I am going to repeat that. The local guy, and there are more and more out there, will likely charge MORE than an attorney would to file your bankruptcy. He makes promises that your case will have no problems and that it will be sped up. The problem with this: the Trustee at these meetings is an attorney himself and knows exactly what to look for. They know exactly when someone has tried to cut corners by going to a “We The People” or to their “Local Guy.”

The lesson here: Go see an attorney. A good attorney will be able to sit down with you and ask a series of questions to first determine if Bankruptcy is the right avenue to take. He’ll then discuss credit ramifications, equity issues with your houses and cars, what can and cannot be taken by a trustee, etc. If Bankruptcy really is the only means available to you, then you want to make sure you do it properly and you feel confident that everything that was submitted conforms to the law. Take my advice…never ever ever deal with someone who is not an attorney and who promises you the moon (and also attorneys who promise you the moon…don’t deal with them either). Seek legal advice, the first consultation is usually free in many established firms.

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