By Ron Kaniuk of Kaniuk Law Office
In Florida, you do not need to hire a lawyer to file for bankruptcy. In the legal world, pro se is the term used when one represents him or herself. So, you can forego legal representation and file your bankruptcy pro se. The good news is that you will not have to pay the lawyer’s fee. The bad news is that you will have to put much time and effort into your own case. Even worse, bankruptcy can be complicated. Without a lawyer, you are prone to make mistakes that can negatively impact your case.
Why Hire a Bankruptcy Lawyer?
The first reason is to have somebody on your team who has the necessary experience to do the job. Your lawyer is there to protect your rights and fight for your interests. The first thing your lawyer should do for you is thoroughly to evaluate your case. Your lawyer uses this evaluation to determine all of your bankruptcy options.
Once an action plan is formulated, your lawyer should explain the process and walk you through any bankruptcy proceedings. As your bankruptcy case progresses, your lawyer will make sure all forms are filled out, confirm all rules and procedures are properly followed, attend meetings and hearings, and negotiate on your behalf. Basically, the lawyer will handle the entire case for you.
Perils of Being Pro Se
There may be times when you can handle a bankruptcy case on your own. For example, you may have a simple case without any assets. These cases are rare. Usually, cases are more complicated which means more things can go wrong. For example, say a bankruptcy trustee accuses you of bankruptcy fraud. Your case can get dismissed and you might be exposed to criminal and civil penalties. Even a small clerical error can lead to the dismissal of your case.
Because of the risks, I recommend that you hire a lawyer to file for bankruptcy. Even if your case seems simple, at least consult with an attorney at the beginning of your case. I would be happy to discuss your particular situation. Please call me or schedule a virtual appointment.