Urban Legend #3 - I do not need a lawyer to file Bankruptcy

Keith Rucinski,  Chapter 13 Trustee, Akron, OH


In the United States people can choose to represent themselves in court, including bankruptcy court.   The term to represent yourself without counsel is “pro se”. A lawyer who represents people in bankruptcy does much more than “complete some forms.   Good counsel will help their client: Determine if a bankruptcy is necessary.  Sometimes there are alternatives. 


Experts: How To Know When It’s Time To File for Bankruptcy

GO Banking Rate

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Bankruptcy. It’s a word that evokes dread in many Americans. Why? Because it may feel like the end of the road, the last resort, the end, in a way, of the game of debt. But how does one know it’s time to file for bankruptcy? What happens when you file for bankruptcy and how does it impact your overall financial picture and existing assets? And finally, how can you rebound financially after filing? 


Debt Baggage You Carry Even After Filing for Bankruptcy

Keith Rucinski, Chapter 13 Trustee,  Akron, OH


The American bankruptcy system is designed to help the innocent person who has fallen on hard financial times earn a bankruptcy discharge (discharge is a legal term meaning to successfully complete a bankruptcy plan). The discharge prohibits creditors from filing lawsuits and wage garnishment to collect on past due debt, including credit card debt and medical debt.


Is Paying Off Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Early a Good Idea?








Sometimes called “wage earner’s plan” or “reorganization bankruptcy,” Chapter 13 bankruptcy is available for people who intend to repay some or all of their debt without liquidating their assets. It spreads the debt burden out into payments that are made over a three to five year period,  based on your income, allowing them to pay back what they owe through installments.


How to Navigate Keeping Your Car When Filing Bankruptcy


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Unlike credit cards, many personal loans—including car loans—are secured debts. Secured loans require collateral. In the case of an auto loan, the collateral is the vehicle itself. When you default on this type of loan, lenders can legally repossess the collateral on the loan (i.e., your car). But for many people, a car is essential, whether used to get to and from work or to care for an elderly parent.


Urban Legend #2 - People File Bankruptcy Who Live Beyond Their Means

Keith Rucinski,  Chapter 13 Trustee, Akron, OH,


“Only people who live beyond their means file bankruptcy.”

When people think of individuals who have filed bankruptcy they often think of people who cannot manage their money and live “beyond their means.” Images of expensive cars and large homes often come to mind, this is not commonly seen with those who file for bankruptcy.


Can You File a Bankruptcy Case Without Using A Lawyer

Jason Wilson Aguilar, Chapter 13 Trustee


Yes, you can file a bankruptcy case without a lawyer. There is no legal requirement that you must have a lawyer represent you in a bankruptcy case. The real question is whether you should file a bankruptcy case without a lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy law. In my opinion, the answer to that question is no. Would you perform surgery on yourself? That is a question one bankruptcy judge would ask.


Bankruptcy Legend: I don't need a lawyer to file Bankruptcy

Keith L. Rucinski, Chapter 13 Trustee, Akron, OH

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Bankruptcy Legend: I do not need a lawyer to file Bankruptcy, all I have to do is complete some forms. In the United States people can choose to represent themselves in court, including bankruptcy court. The term to represent yourself without counsel is “pro se”. A lawyer who represents people in bankruptcy does much more than “complete some forms.  Determine if a bankruptcy is necessary. 


Discharging Federal Student Loans in Bankruptcy Just Became Easier

Scott Waterman, Chapter 13 Trustee, Reading, PA


If a student loan borrower is having trouble making their monthly payment, bankruptcy may be an option.  When a Federal Court of Appeals blocked the Biden Student Loan Forgiveness Program in November 2022, borrowers thought their chance to free themselves from burdensome student loan debt had disappeared.  However, just three days later new guidelines were issued making it easier to discharge loans through bankrupty.


Why Some Chapter 13 Cases End Before They Ever Get Started

Narmore Law Office

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A Chapter 13 case can provide immediate relief and peace of mind.  There is a certain element of “instant gratification” that gives it appeal on day one of the case.  In many jurisdictions a case can be filed for “no money down.”  Spending a few hours at an attorney’s office and signing some paperwork will make the foreclosure, repossession, garnishment or other collection efforts stop, as if by magic.

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About Personal Bankruptcy

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Filing For Bankruptcy


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Bankruptcy has long had a stigma in the U.S. People who file for bankruptcy protection have been stereotyped as irresponsible, unethical or lazy. But many Americans find themselves facing bankruptcy due to an unexpected crisis, like job loss, a medical emergency or divorce. Bankruptcy is designed to give debtors a fresh start and provide relief from creditors. But filing for bankruptcy is a complex decision.


How Much Does It Cost To File For Bankruptcy? 3 Things To Know


man reading bills

Filing for bankruptcy protection can free you from burdensome debts and nagging bill collectors, but there’s a cost. Depending on the type of bankruptcy, consumers may have to pay a few hundred to several thousand dollars to get relief from debt under the nation’s bankruptcy laws. For businesses choosing reorganization bankruptcy, the costs can be even higher.


What Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Is And How It Works

The Good Men Project

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy paper

Times are challenging in America with the coronavirus. You may be experiencing the stress that comes with financial hardship and are considering a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The purpose of this article is to inform you about the most important things about Chapter 13 bankruptcy.


What Can Cause My Chapter 7 Bankruptcy To Be Denied?



Was your Chapter 7 bankruptcy denied? If so, you may be wondering what happens next. First, you should understand why your Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be denied. So, What Will Cause a Chapter 7 to be Denied? If you are found to hide assets, transfer assets prior to filing, and/or provide incorrect fair market values for your assets, you may be charged with fraud in your case.


Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: What Is It, and Is It Right for You?

Forbes Advisor 


Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the bankruptcy filing most often used by consumers. It provides protection from creditors, puts a stop to most collection efforts and can eventually wipe debts away. Debtors have to agree—theoretically, at least—to hand over their property so it can be sold to generate cash to pay the people they owe. And borrowers can’t avoid repaying some kinds of debt.

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If you’re facing bankruptcy, here’s what experts say to do








Personal bankruptcy filings have fallen dramatically since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, but with interest rates rising and government relief waning, filing numbers will likely pick up through this year, say experts.“I’ve had more calls in the last few weeks than the previous six months,” said Charles Juntikka, a New York-based lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy law.


It's the Law: What can I keep in bankruptcy?

Post Register

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Many people wonder if they file for bankruptcy, what will they get to “keep?” The vast majority of individual bankruptcies are what are known as Chapter 7 bankruptcies. Chapter 7 is a traditional liquidation bankruptcy where the trustee “gathers and sells the debtor’s nonexempt assets and uses the proceeds of such assets to pay holders of claims (creditors) in accordance with the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code.”


My dad declared bankruptcy. What happens to mom’s credit?

NJ Moneyhelp 

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Q. My father declared bankruptcy without telling my mother. How will this affect her credit? — Concerned  A. It seems that was something of a surprise for your mom. When one person files for bankruptcy, in New Jersey it does not generally have an impact on the spouse. Generally, in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your dad’s debts would be discharged, so if he is the only one filing, your mother should not feel any impact.

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Bankruptcy offers a fresh start after a financial crunch

Business Insider 

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Bankruptcy is a legal process that helps individuals and businesses resolve outstanding debts while also fairly managing the payments owed to creditors. Creditors involved in bankruptcy proceedings, however, typically don't receive full payment. There are restrictions on the types of bankruptcy you're allowed to file. How you file depends on whether you are an individual or a business, as well as factors like your level of income and the kind of debt you have.


Fresh Start

How to get a car loan after bankruptcy

Business Insider

car and calculator

Bankruptcy can offer lasting financial relief to people struggling to repay their debts, but it comes at a cost. A bankruptcy filing can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years, flagging you as a risk to lenders. This can make it harder to get approved for new, affordable loans until you rebuild your credit. Here's how bankruptcy can affect your chance of getting a car loan.


Leaving Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Protection Early

Malibu Arts Journal

man looking determined

Filing for bankruptcy can be a difficult and stressful process, but it doesn’t have to be. Chapter 13 bankruptcies allow you to create a repayment plan that is approved by your creditors and the legal system. This type of bankruptcy differs from a chapter 7 bankruptcy, which uses your assets to pay off your creditors.


Is 401(k) safe in bankruptcy?

Bankrate - May 27, 2022

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If you are filing for bankruptcy, you will likely be relieved to hear that, yes, your 401(k) is generally safe in bankruptcy.


Buying A House After Bankruptcy

Forbes - Nov. 30, 2021

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Buying a house can be a challenge in itself, but if you’ve had to file for bankruptcy, owning a home may seem all the more difficult to achieve.

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5 Ways to Get Financing With a Bankruptcy in Your Past

The Motley Fool - Dec. 15, 2021

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Just because you've had a bankruptcy doesn't mean you can't get financing to invest in real estate. Find out how.


How Bankruptcy Works

Before And After Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, There Is A Big Risk Of Spending Money

Fox Chronicle

lawyer explaining bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a helpful tool for people who are struggling to keep up with their finances. Once your case is resolved, many of your unsecured debts, such as personal loans and credit cards, can be cleared under a court order. This can provide some relief from debt collectors contacting you or garnishing your wages.


Justices Say Bankruptcy Can’t Erase Debt From Others’ Fraud

Bloomberg Law

lawyer with gavel

The US Supreme Court ruled that a bankrupt California woman can’t wipe out debts incurred through her husband’s fraudulent conduct in a home sale. Kate Bartenwerfer had argued that she was unaware of her husband’s actions. But she can’t use bankruptcy to discharge the debt obtained by fraud, the high court said in a unanimous decision Wednesday.


How Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Calculators Work

GIS User

couple looking at calculator

If you’re looking into Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, you may come across information regarding the bankruptcy means test calculations. The bankruptcy means test which can be quite confusing when you visit the government website, so a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 calculator can help you in your endevour. The big question is whether you meet the eligibility requirements for Chapter 7 bankruptcy using the means test.


What You Need to Know About US Trustee Audits of Bankruptcy Cases

MoneyWise Law

lawyer explaining bankruptcy

The U.S. Trustee Program is responsible for overseeing the administration of bankruptcy cases. As part of this duty, they regularly audit Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. If you’re contemplating bankruptcy, you should know about these audits and what they mean for your case.


What To Expect During An Initial Consultation With A Bankruptcy Attorney

Lawyer Monthly

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Many feel uncomfortable talking about it, even with a trusted friend or family member. The simple mention of the word can bring up a wide range of feelings. 

Fortunately, a bankruptcy attorney understands that you are going through a very trying and emotional moment. They’re mindful of the fact that most bankruptcies are caused by events outside of your control, such as the loss of a job or a serious health problem. No bankruptcy attorney will ever blame or pass judgment on their client. Instead, they assist them in finding a workable solution to their financial woes, including credit counseling and debt settlement.


How To File For Bankruptcy


women and bills

Feeling crushed by debt is stressful, but there are options. If you find yourself saddled with more debt than you can pay off in a timely manner, you can file for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy is a serious step and one that often comes with negative connotations. Some people worry that it’s a sign of failure or that they’ll then carry a financial stigma that will affect their credit. However, sometimes bankruptcy is the best way to get a new start.


How Long Does It Take to File Bankruptcy?

Vents Magazine


When considering filing for bankruptcy, many people wonder how long it will take. The process can vary depending on the type of bankruptcy and the individual’s case, but in general, it is usually a few months from beginning to end.


How Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Works in Texas

Legalreader.com - June 1, 2022

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You may make a good income but are unable to afford your debts, so you are looking at a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Texas. Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a big decision. You are committing to a bankruptcy repayment plan that could last for up to five years.


Will My Income From Cannabis Affect My Bankruptcy?

Lawyers.com - May 31, 2022


Are you considering filing for bankruptcy? Do you receive any income from the sale of cannabis or cannabis products? 


Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics: The Automatic Stay and the “Why” Behind the Warnings: What Happens Once a Debtor Files for Bankruptcy?

National Law Review - Jan. 19, 2022

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Many creditors have been warned of the need to halt collection efforts once they are put on notice that a debtor has filed for bankruptcy. 


Recent News

Today On the Table: filing for bankruptcy can now protect you from student loans

Fox 2 Detroit - Dec. 8th, 2022


The Biden administraiton has made it easier to file for bankruptcy and cover student loans. But is that a smart financial step?


Study Reveals Racial Bias in Bankruptcy Cases

Ebony - Nov. 2, 2021

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According to a recent study, approximately 30 percent of African-American filers are more likely to have their bankruptcy cases dismissed than non-Black bankruptcy filers, Yahoo News reports.

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Bankruptcy Filings Continue Steady Drop

US Courts - May 17, 2022

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Bankruptcy filings continued a steep two-year-long fall that coincided with the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19).


A public education project of the National Association of Chapter Thirteen Trustees

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The materials on this website are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice, legal opinion, or any other advice on any specific facts or circumstances. You should not act or refrain from acting upon this information without seeking professional advice.