"Don't listen to anyone who tells you he handled his own bankruptcy, and everything went fine," says James Carter, co-author of Personal Bankruptcy Laws for Dummies.
The author of the book says that, because he probably just wants you to buy his book, etc. I filed for bankruptcy in 2007 myself and everything went just fine, and I don't consider myself the fastest horse in the race, either! So, if I can do it...anybody can do it, and I saved over $1,000 by doing it myself!
"You must do the things you think you cannot do." Elenor Roosevelt
In 2005, I was declared disabled by the Department of Veteran Affairs and by Social Security...and could not work, and I knew at some point in time, I was going to have to file for bankruptcy. Something I dreaded doing, and I couldn't pay back the debt I had acquired over the years, etc.
Because of the new bankruptcy law in 2005, the new legal fees would be about $1,500.00, which I could not afford to pay. The Court filing fee is $300.00 and there's no way to get around that, unless you're a vegetable, etc.
So, about a year went by, as I tried to figure out what to do, and I knew that a bad credit report was going to hurt me unless I filed. And, then one day, I read some place, that an individual could file for bankruptcy without the aid of an attorney. If so, I could save myself more than $1,000.00! As I said before, I'm not the fastest horse in the race, but I wouldn't be happy with myself unless I tried!
I think my biggest asset in doing this was patience. I allowed myself about four months to do the job, and I took my time, to try to learn about the laws of bankruptcy. I went to the U.S. Bankruptcy court website, and I down-loaded all the forms necessary to file. I also down-loaded other pertinent information the court had to offer. I worked on it little by little each week to get familiar with what was needed by the Court.
In an article written by Frances Cerra Whittelsey and entitled, "Down and Out," the question is asked, "Are Bankruptcy reforms catching deadbeats or bullying the destitute?" The article goes on to say; "Since a tough new federal bankruptcy law went into effect in 2005, the number of Americans going to court to wipe out their debt has plummeted. 'It's hard to make a long-term prediction, but it looks like the new law is working as intended, cutting out abusive filings and filings of convenience.' says Laura Fisher, of the American Bankers Association in Washington.
'That's patently ridiculous,' counters Brad Botes, a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. He thinks it's only a matter of time before the number of personal bankruptcies is back up to the pre-2005 levels. 'The problem is still there: too much easy credit.' he says. Companies continue to send credit cards to anyone who has a pulse...and to some who don't!'
And, the argument continues...
"The worst bankruptcy in the world, is when the person has lost his or her enthusiasm." H.W. Arnold
In my case, everything that was needed, was down-loaded from the Bankruptcy Court's website. And, the court is very fussy about how things are done, so if you plan to file for bankruptcy, you'd better do it exactly the way the court wants it. If you don't, your case will be dismissed, and you'll have to pay another filing fee and start out all over again, etc. Example;
If the court wants your creditors list on a floppy disk on Notepad...put it on Notepad and NOT on Word or WordPerfect or anything else! Follow the instructions EXACTLY!
I set a date for my filing, and about two weeks before I filed, I went downtown to the federal building and to the bankruptcy office, to ask a few questions that I wasn't clear on. I'm glad I did, because the woman gave me a few new forms that were not on the website, and she told me to eliminate a few things, too.
If the Court calls for taking a credit-counseling course, and turning in the completion certificate, before you file...DO IT! If the Court calls for paying the fee with a money order or cashiers check, don't come in bobbing along with one of your rubber checks to pay for bankruptcy! PLEASE!
During the time I worked on the paperwork, I made two copies. On one copy, I did everything in pencil...and later when I was satisfied that everything was right, I used ink to the second copy to turn in the the Court. The instructions and forms are clear from the Court...follow them and you should be okay!
When filing day arrived, I went down to the federal courthouse, and gave the woman my manilla envelope with my forms and my floppy disk. The first thing she did, was to check my floppy disk, to see if I had done everything properly and according to instructions. It was all right, and she told me to wait about 15 minutes and not to leave the office.
After about 15 minutes, she gave me a receipt for the money; copies of the stamped forms and
instructions for the next step. I was to attend a
creditor's meeting on the 12th floor in about three weeks. In the mean time, I had to complete a financial management course, which lasted the entire morning, and mail the completion certifcate to the courthouse.
The final step was the creditor's meeting which was held three weeks later. It's a public forum, whereby creditor's can attend and object to the filing or whatever say what's on their mind. Nobody showed up. The Special Master in the room turned on a tape recorder, and swore me in and asked me about three questions...and it all took about 5 minutes or less. I was then dismissed.
"I believe there is somebody out there watching us! Unfortunately, it's the government." Woody Allen
If everything is done right and according to the instructions, you'll get your final approval from the court in about 4 to 5 months. Good luck!
To learn more;
- Institute for Financial Literacy;
- American Bar Association; www.abanet.org
answers questions about different types of
- U.S. Trustee Program; www.usdoj-gov/ust;
approves credit counseling programs
- Nolo.com; legal information on bankruptcy
- Debt Reduction Planners; AARP; www.aarp.org
- Check the phone book for your bankruptcy
court website to download forms needed
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Copyright; 2008; Jerry Aragon/The Humor Doctor
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