Friday, September 22, 2006

Pro Se Bankruptcy Filings


1. The new bankruptcy law is 500 pages long, extremely complex and adds a tremendous level of complexity to the filing of personal bankruptcy petitions.

2. There are certain pre-filing requirements that must be satisfied or else the bankruptcy petition will be dismissed. For example, the Bankruptcy Trustee must be provided with the debtor's prior year tax return as well as pay stubs for the 60 day period prior to the filing.

3. A debtor (or the debtor's attorney) must now calculate the debtor's median income. This calculation is complicated and consists of averaging the debtor's gross income for the 6 months prior to filing, less Social Security payments, less war-crime victims payments, less victims-of-crime payments and less victims-of-terrorist payments.

4. Certain debtors may need to prepare a "means test". This is a very complicated 6-page calculation, similar to preparing a complicated tax return.

5. If a bankruptcy petition is dismissed and re-filed, the automatic stay will remain in effect for only 30 days following dismissal. The debtor needs to make a motion to continue the automatic stay and this motion must be both filed and heard by a Judge within that 30 day period.

6. If a bankruptcy petition is dismissed twice then the automatic stay
will not be applicable following the second dismissal.

In light of all the above reasons, it is crucial that anyone who is contemplating filing for personal bankruptcy first consult with an experienced and knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney.

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