December 1, 2015- New Bankruptcy Forms In Effect for All Filings

December 2015

People trying to file bankruptcy starting December 1, 2015, may be in for a surprise. On that day, new mandatory bankruptcy forms went into effect and must be used in all consumer bankruptcy filings under Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Consumers sometimes try to file their own bankruptcy, without a lawyer to represent them. If they do so now, they will be confronted with at least 98 new pages of legal mumbo jumbo.
The new forms were designed by a committee of Judges and attorneys in an attempt to make it easier to file consumer bankruptcies. The official name of the effort is the bankruptcy “Forms Modernization Project.” However, the opposite effect may very well be the result, along with a few more trees being killed to cover the new paper involved. For example, the new forms come with thirteen pages of instructions. This should give some indication of just how difficult it will be for the average person to do this on their own. The instruction pages also state in highlighted boxes that filers representing themselves are responsible for complying with:

• the U.S. Bankruptcy Code,
• the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure,
• all of the local forms and local rules that have been adopted in all of the various bankruptcy court divisions,

The average consumer may have a lot of difficulty meeting these standards.

The self-represented consumer is also required to sign a waiver of legal rights page which points out that any mistake or inaction may harm you with this warning:

“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.”
In more than fifteen years of consumer bankruptcy work, I have seen bankruptcy courts deal leniently with people who make unintentional mistakes. It will be interesting to see whether courts now choose to look the other way. If anything, the new forms provide such detail that “no one told me that” will probably not fly as an excuse anymore.
Anyone filing for bankruptcy should utilize the services of an experienced consumer bankruptcy attorney. I offer free consultations and affordable payment plans for just about any budget. If you don’t need to file bankruptcy, I will tell you that also. Call met at 216-642-8234 and let me schedule your free consultation today.

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