Saturday, March 23, 2013
I haven't been on here in a while. I added a new blog with WordPress so didn't pay much attention to this one. So what is new? For one thing, the number of debtors filing their own bankruptcies has skyrocketed. I don't know if it's that people can't afford lawyers or are just getting cheap and think they can handle it on their own, but the number of "pro se" non-lawyer assisted filers is as large as the number of pro se filers that get into trouble with some of the finer points of bankruptcy after they file. Whether it involves exemptions, tax refunds, inheritances, car creditors or omitted creditors, I get calls post-filing asking for advice to fix a screwed up case. By then, it is often too late to fix anything because once the trustee get a smell of an asset, it's like blood in the water to a shark. Hiring me up front is often cheaper than doing it on your own and then getting into expensive trouble, but try to tell that to a debtor. They will be changing the forms again to try to make it easier for pro se debtors to file without an attorney. That's like giving out free guns and bullets and saying just follow the instruction manual. Bankruptcy is not just filling out a form - it's knowing the statutes, the local decisions in interpreting the statutes, knowing the local rules and practices and knowing each judge and trustee and their particular idiosyncrasies. Can I fix a broken case? Sometimes, but it usually ends up costing twice as much as doing it right the first time. Penny wise, pound foolish, they say. But human nature does not change.