The new bankruptcy forms are 98 Pages of Legal Mumbo Jumbo. These new mandatory forms take effect on December 1, 2015. The new forms contain severe warnings against trying to act as your own lawyer. Not counting instructions, the new bankruptcy forms for Chapter 7, (individuals) is 85 pages long! The official instructions take up another 13 pages. That makes for 98 pages of legal mumbo jumbo if you try to file bankruptcy without a lawyer.
Getting used to new bankruptcy forms will be more than a challenge for experienced bankruptcy lawyers. And for pro se filers, (individuals trying to file on their own without a lawyer), the new forms contain severe warnings against trying to act as your own lawyer. (The new bankruptcy forms links in this article take you to the official web site for the United States Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California. In addition to the Official Bankruptcy forms, the site also incorporates certain Local Bankruptcy Forms that are required in the divisions of that court). Most bankruptcy courts have adopted certain Local Bankruptcy Forms to augment the Official Bankruptcy Forms.
The new bankruptcy forms are not “intuitive.”
You can’t do them just by filling in the banks. The Official Bankruptcy Forms package has 13 pages of instructions. Pro se bankruptcy filers are specifically warned in writing to get a lawyer. Page 6 of the instructions warns in bold print, “You should have an attorney review your decision to file for bankruptcy and the choice of chapter.”
Every page of instructions has traps for the unwary. Page 9 of the instructions says it again, in bold, as follows:
Read These Important Warnings
Because bankruptcy can have serious long-term financial and legal consequences, including loss of your property, you should hire an attorney and carefully consider all of your options before you file. Only an attorney can give you legal advice about what can happen as a result of filing for bankruptcy and what your options are. If you do file for bankruptcy, an attorney can help you fill out the forms properly and protect you, your family, your home, and your possessions.
Although the law allows you to represent yourself in bankruptcy court, you should understand that many people find it difficult to represent themselves successfully. The rules are technical, and a mistake or inaction may harm you. If you file without an attorney, you are still responsible for knowing and following all of the legal requirements. You should not file for bankruptcy if you are not eligible to file or if you do not intend to file the necessary documents.
Bankruptcy fraud is a serious crime; you could be fined and imprisoned if you commit fraud in your bankruptcy case. Making a false statement, concealing property, or obtaining money or property by fraud in connection with a bankruptcy case can result in fines up to $250,000, or imprisonment for up to 20 years, or both. 18 U.S.C. §§ 152, 1341, 1519, and 3571.
Those warnings are meant to be taken seriously.
Not counting instructions, the new bankruptcy forms for Chapter 7, (individuals) is 85 pages long!
Page 6, (shown to the left), of the new bankruptcy forms requires you to sign a WARNING that you understand the risks of filing bankruptcy without an attorney. The signature line on page 6 says:
“By signing here, I acknowledge that I understand the risks involved in filing without an attorney. I have read and understood this notice, and I am aware that filing a bankruptcy case without an attorney may cause me to lose my rights or property if I do not properly handle the case.” x_________________
The New Bankruptcy Forms in Summary
The New Bankruptcy Forms make it much harder for you to file bankruptcy. You need a lawyer if you want to protect your legal rights in bankruptcy court. The new bankruptcy forms contain explicit warnings that you should not file bankruptcy without a lawyer. The forms warn you that without a lawyer, it’s going to be your own fault if things go bad.
The law firm of Bayer Wishman & Leotta are Los Angeles bankruptcy lawyers. The firm was established in 1989. We have handled about 15,000 bankruptcy cases.
Free bankruptcy consultation. Call 800-477-3111.
Protect your legal rights in bankruptcy court.