So, I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again a number of times, but you really do need to get a Utah bankruptcy attorney to help you with filing bankruptcy unless you have some special knowledge or skills. Bankruptcy is one area of the law where people frequently try to represent themselves – and they really shouldn’t.
Now, I realize that coming from a bankruptcy lawyer in Salt Lake City, you might not trust me when I say you need to hire…well…me. So that’s why I’m just going to relate a situation that I witnessed in a hearing this week:
I was in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Utah, in a particular Judge’s courtroom waiting for a hearing for one of my clients, when the judge called a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case up. A middle-aged man, the only one in the room not wearing a suit, stood up and walked to the front of the room. The hearing was on a motion by the trustee to dismiss this man’s case without a discharge. It was obvious that the man was representing himself.
Now, first of all, I can’t imagine how nervous he must have been. Waiting in a room full of lawyers to talk to a federal judge. I get a little nervous sometimes…and I’m one of the lawyers!
Fortunately, the judge was very nice to this man. Unfortunately, the judge could not help him out. What had happened was that the man had neglected to file certain documents in connection with his case. Given that there are so many very specific and important deadlines and documents that must be filed, it is understandable that he missed one of them…you know since he’s not a friggin’ attorney – he doesn’t know these things. But the thing is, it doesn’t matter in the eyes of the law. When a deadline like this is missed, and the trustee files a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy case (and they always do), the judge is bound by the law to grant the motion.
The judge was as nice to this man as he could be, but informed him that he had no choice but to grant the motion to dismiss, and that the man would have to start all over again.
What are the consequences for this man? The loss of a $287 filing fee, and probably dozens of hours of research and paperwork done in vain.
Before he left the JUDGE (not the Utah Bankruptcy Attorney trying to get your business :)) said, “You really need to find someone to advise you on these things, someone who knows what they’re doing. It is very rare for someone representing themselves in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to make it through without messing something up.”
I would contend that it is just as important in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy as well. In fact, the documents and deadlines this man missed are applicable in chapter 7 cases as well, so he wouldn’t have made it through doing his own Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Utah either!