Filing Bankruptcy Online, Is It Even Worth It?
Since the introduction of the Internet, people have looked for ways to do everything online. This has even crossed over into the medical and legal fields. This is no different for filing bankruptcy. There are now many Internet startup companies that offer prepackaged legal documents with instructions of how to fill them out. With all the hoopla, many people are even trying to file bankruptcy on their own. Over the last 10 years there has been a large number of websites that offer filing bankruptcy online. What these services offer is a web portal to fill out the bankruptcy petition and print it to take to the bankruptcy court. So while the bankruptcy petition is filled out online, it still needs to be submitted in person at the local federal bankruptcy court unless you are a bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy attorney has the luxury of electronically submitting their client's bankruptcy petition online for a small fee. In fact, most attorneys rarely submit any documents in person because of this technology. This is not offered to the do-it-yourselfer. If someone is filing a do-it-yourself bankruptcy, they will need to go there in person. While in the past it might've been okay, recently, because of constant changes to the bankruptcy code in most cases it's a much better idea to hire a bankruptcy attorney.
If someone needs to file bankruptcy and is worried about what way to go because of the lack of funds, they should just consider the amount of money that the person will be wiping out in a bankruptcy discharge and compare that to the cost of leasing a bankruptcy attorney and the value all of a sudden appearances. Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy now requires an individual to qualify under a means test. This all does not sound too complicated but the bankruptcy code was written by lawyers, for lawyers. This basically complicates it for the average Joe to be able to understand what they really want. If a person misunderstands the qualifications for filing Chapter 7, all of a sudden they might find themselves being forced into filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead. A bankruptcy attorney will prequalify the individual before even filing the petition.
So there's a two part answer to the question, can I file bankruptcy online? First, technically yes if you're only considering the bankruptcy petition being filled out. The second answer is the only way you can file bankruptcy online electronically is to be represented by a bankruptcy attorney and have them submit it. No matter which way you slice it, the individual filing bankruptcy is required to appear in court at the 341 meeting or meeting of creditors. There is no way to get around it as the bankruptcy filing process is a legal proceeding and every legal proceeding allows a person to contest the process. At this meeting the creditors have the ability to dispute the bankruptcy filing. Rarely does this happen unless there is fraud involved.
The bottom line, hiring a bankruptcy attorney will give a person peace of mind knowing that someone will be there to advocate for them during the entire course. If creditors get out of line during the bankruptcy filing, the bankruptcy attorney will call them and tell them to stop bothering their client. This service is not available to the do-it-yourselfer. They will be responsible to fend off the creditors on their own. Most creditors will respect the individual filing, but usually not until they have their bankruptcy case number after the petition is filed. Before that, the harassment will continue until the case is filed with the court. With an attorney an individual will also be able to obtain legal advice regarding financial matters that might affect them in the future. Filing a do-it-yourself bankruptcy will leave an individual out there on their own to make mistakes.