The act of “pro se” involves advocating on one’s own behalf in front of a court instead of utilizing the services of a lawyer; people who are facing bankruptcy often cannot afford the services of a bankruptcy lawyer. Philadelphia residents need to take into consideration their individual situations prior to pro se filing by reflecting on the type of bankruptcy they are undergoing, which assets they would like to protect, and how familiar they are with bankruptcy filing and court procedures.
As a prominent legal firm in the Philadelphia, PA area that specializes in bankruptcy, mortgage mortification, estate, family, DUI, and personal injury cases, William D. Schroeder, Jr. Attorney at Law suggests that before choosing pro se bankruptcy filing, clients should ask themselves two very important questions.
What Type of Bankruptcy am I filing?
If you are not a fisherman, farmer, or restructuring a business, chances are you won’t be filing for chapter 11 or 12. In Pennsylvania, as with other states, individuals who are facing bankruptcy must make a decision on whether they would benefit more from a chapter 7 or chapter 13 filing.
If you have a high amount of debt that you want to pay off quickly and you do not have much hope of paying it off in monthly installments, chapter 7 filings might be the right choice for you. With this option, individuals can eliminate a large portion of their debt (not including certain non-dischargeable debts).
Before individuals can qualify for chapter 7, they must pass the Means Test by comparing their income to the median income of the state. This ensures that the individual in question who is filing for bankruptcy cannot in any way pay back their creditors.
One downside to chapter 7 filings is that individuals will lose all of their assets that are not covered by state or federal bankruptcy exceptions. These possessions are seized by the court in order to help pay off some of the debt.
Individuals who are fully aware of the way the court system work and can fill out all their own forms without legal aid do not need a lawyer for this type of bankruptcy filing.
Unlike with chapter 7 filings, chapter 13 filings allow individuals to maintain all of their assets, but are incredibly complex and can often span the course of 3-5 years to complete. Because the repayment plan involves careful negotiations with creditors and approval by the court, it is wise to use a lawyer for this type of bankruptcy.
Moreover, chapter 7 filings give individuals little room to withdraw from the procedure once it is set in motion. Chapter 13 filings, on the other hand, allow bankruptcy filers a chance to back out.
Can I Find a Lawyer to Represent Me?
If you are already in financial ruin, it may be difficult to find a lawyer to represent you. One of the first steps you should take before filing for bankruptcy involves researching whether or not you qualify for legal aid with your local bankruptcy court.
If you don’t qualify, don’t give up hope. Call various bankruptcy firms and ask about their fees and services, because the legal industry is competitive, many attorneys will allow you to pay them in the future.
Ultimately, in order to receive helpful advice on which type of filings would benefit you more, it is prudent to utilize the services of a bankruptcy lawyer. Philadelphia residents, however, who cannot find a lawyer to represent them in their time of financial crisis, may be able to act pro se instead.
To learn more about the full legal services offered at William D. Schroeder, Jr. Attorney at Law, explore the website at https://www.jrlaw.org/ or contact:
William D. Schroeder, Jr. Attorney at Law
262A Bethlehem Pike, Suite 102
Colmar, PA, 18915