Interviewer: What’s wrong with those places by the side of the road that says like “Bankruptcy only $299 or do it yourself-kits”?
James Logan: The most important thing that I do in a chapter 7 is protect your assets. A lot of times, people don’t even realize it’s an asset like a tax refund, they don’t think about the fact that they’re getting $8-9,000 and that’s an assert that they need 1) to disclose, and 2) protect in a bankruptcy. So, by going to one of these places on the side of the road or bankruptcy petition preparer, by law, they’re not allowed to tell you what you can protect or how to protect it. And that’s really the main job of a chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys to protect your assets and make sure you don’t lose anything in a bankruptcy that you don’t absolutely have to.
A Discount Bankruptcy Guy Will Not Meet the Creditors on a Debtor’s Behalf
Interviewer: Any other problems that could come from just using a paper pusher on one of those discount places?
James Logan: They’re not going to the meeting of creditors with you. So, if there’s a problem there, you don’t have anybody to turn to, to try to figure out what’s going on. There’s no guarantee that they have any idea that bankruptcy papers will be filled out correctly.
People May Fall Behind on Their Payments to the Trustee in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Interviewer: What happens if something gets messed up in your case, will it be dismissed or what will happen to it?
James Logan: In Chapter 7, hopefully nothing gets messed up because that’s why you’re hiring us to make sure you’ve done it correctly. In chapter 13 though, it’s fairly common for people to fall behind in their mortgage payments or their payments to the trustee. A lot of times, we’ll convert the case from 13 to chapter 7 and they’ll just walk away from the house. Most of the times, in 13, if you don’t make the trustee payments, the case can be dismissed and we can actually re-file and start you fresh. That happens to a lot of the people who lose jobs and fall behind and then, they’ll get a new job and we could file a new case and take another shot at it.
It is Imperative to Retain An Experienced Attorney When Filing Bankruptcy
Interviewer: Is it foolish not to have an attorney involved?
James Logan: Absolutely foolish. The bankruptcy attorney’s job is to protect the assets. And a lot of times, you don’t even know that you have an asset like a car accident or tax refund or your mother added you to her house and things like that. So, by going to a bankruptcy attorney who’s experienced and knows what he’s or she’s doing, you don’t have to worry about losing any assets in a chapter 7 and that’s really the reason to hire an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
Trustees May Dislike People Who File Pro Se (Without an Attorney) Bankruptcies
Interviewer: Do you have situations where you have to fix bankruptcies where people had tried to do them on their own and messed it up or they went to one of those cheaper places and they’ve screwed it out?
James Logan: I have come across that. There’s one trustee in particular here that just really dislikes people who file what they call pro se, without an attorney. And I should send him a Christmas card because he’s made me a lot of money over the years. I probably had 5 or 10 people come to see me, after go into the meeting of creditors with him and getting into big mess and then having to come see me to straighten it all out.