When individuals make the decision to file bankruptcy, their fear is often replaced with relief when the automatic stay kicks in. Even though the bankruptcy hearing may be stressful, many individuals power through it with the anticipation of their bankruptcy discharge and a new debt free lifestyle. While the promise of financial freedom may have many filers holding their breath, life post-discharge may not be so great if filers don’t know how to exercise the rights afforded them by the bankruptcy law.
Some individuals file Chapter 7 bankruptcy pro se, or on their own, without the help of an attorney. Some sources even offer easy to fill out bankruptcy petition forms to make the process easier. While this may help pro se filers to fill out their paperwork, it does not help filers identify every dischargeable debt or every exemption.
The general public understands that bankruptcy is a way to discharge unsecured debts such as credit cards and other personal loans. Pretty much everyone also knows the important debts that cannot be discharged like child support obligations, criminal fines and alimony. There are, however, several debts that are bankruptcy specific. In other words, some debts that are not dischargeable under Chapter 7 are dischargeable under Chapter 13. Knowing the difference may prevent filers from leaving unnecessary debts looming over them after their discharge.
Some filers may be under the misconception that student loans and tax debt are never discharged. Although this is typically the case, working with an attorney may help identify certain elements that make these debts dischargeable. Likewise, property exemptions in bankruptcy can be more confusing than deciding which debts to include. Many resources offer a general list of exemptions for bankruptcy. However, these lists are just a guideline and not comprehensive. An attorney can help filers identify all property exemptions and exercise every right afforded to them by the bankruptcy law.
While it may be tempting to file your bankruptcy petition pro se, nothing can replace the peace of mind that comes from knowing your petition has been filed with an experienced attorney. For individuals to experience all the debt relief that comes after filing bankruptcy, speaking to an attorney can help.