Bankruptcy is a complicated process. There are many document preparation services that will provide individuals with the necessary documents to file their own bankruptcy case and these services will charge a fee to help individuals fill out the forms. However, document preparers may not provide any legal advice as they are not attorneys licensed to practice law. Even telling individuals whether or not they should file a certain chapter bankruptcy case is giving legal advice. In addition, any mistakes that are made are considered the individual filing the bankruptcy case and individuals may lose their property or be dismissed from bankruptcy because they did something wrong. If individuals choose to represent themselves and/or use a document preparer to prepare your bankruptcy documents, they are responsible for acting as an attorney which means they must make sure that all of the filings of your case are made correctly and in a timely fashion. They will not be excused for mistakes because they did not “know”. The law requires that individuals acting as an attorney on their own behalf know the law and if they do not know the law there is not any excuse or “do-over”.
Many individuals file their own case only to have it dismissed because it was not filed properly and then the individual must hire an attorney to fix the problem. Ultimately, the individual will end up paying more in fees and costs than he or she would have had an attorney been hired in the first place. In addition, because of a bankruptcy dismissal the individual may have lost property that could have been saved or may not be able to file another bankruptcy case.