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Representing Yourself in Bankruptcy

General Legal Topics

Legal Information vs. Legal Advice

The Bankruptcy Court is forbidden from providing debtors with legal advice but may provide legal information relevant to the bankruptcy process.
Ex Parte Communication:  How Do I Communicate with the Court? When anyone talks, writes, or otherwise communicates directly with the judge about the case without the other parties involved in the case knowing what’s communicated, this is considered ex parte communication.
Service 101: Wait a Minute Mr. Postman! Debtors are frequently required to serve the documents they file. Service does not have to be scary.  What is it? Why is it important? How do I do it? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

Can I Have Your Autograph?  Signature 101

A signature is a name written in a distinctive way as a form of identification used to verify the authenticity of a document.  The Clerk’s Office reviews signatures to verify the litigant has authorized the filing of each document requiring a signature  Failing to sign a document that requires a signature could cause unwanted delays in the processing of a case or dismissal of a case entirely.

Mind Your Ps and Qs: Etiquette at the Courthouse

The courtroom does not have to be a scary and intimidating place.  Follow these best practices for courtroom etiquette, and you will have a pleasant experience.

Bankruptcy Specific Topics

Bankruptcy 101: What is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding that allows debtors to consolidate debt collection efforts against them into a single proceeding and seek a discharge of all or most of their debts.

The Bankruptcy Bunch

There are many parties involved in a bankruptcy case. Who are they? What is their role?

Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13

Most consumer debtors file a case under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Debtors must decide which is best for them.

Do Your Duty: Debtors’ Duties in Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy provides debtors with several benefits but also imposes several duties.  Your case may be dismissed if you do not comply with certain statutory requirements and deadlines under applicable federal and local rules of procedure.
Making Sense of the Automatic Stay In most cases the automatic stay stops all collection efforts against a debtor when a bankruptcy case is filed.  This is a great benefit to debtors, but it may not always apply depending on a debtor’s history of filing.

341 Meeting of Creditors

Debtors must attend a 341 Meeting of Creditors after filing a bankruptcy case.  The Trustee assigned to the case examines the debtor at this meeting. Creditors and members of the public may also attend the meeting.

Show me the Proof: What is a Proof of Claim

A Proof of Claim is a form filed by creditors indicating the amount the debtor owed them on the date the bankruptcy case was filed.

Reaffirmation Agreements Simplified

A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement made between a creditor and a debtor.  It waives the discharge of a debt that would otherwise be discharged in a bankruptcy case, allowing the debtor to retain property, such as a car or residence, provided the debtor follows certain terms and conditions.

Navigating the Path to Financial Freedom

The bankruptcy process aims to provide debtors with a “clean slate” and a path to financial freedom.  The Bankruptcy Code helps debtors navigate this path by requiring completion of a course in credit counseling and a debtor education course.  The purpose of each course is slightly different, and they are taken at different points in a case. Each course is required in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies.