A bankruptcy lawyer is not your mother

scoldingWhen you are looking to file for bankruptcy, you are likely to get bombarded with advice, some well-meaning, and some self-serving.

Like “It’s way too hard to do yourself. You definitely need to get a lawyer.”

Or “It’s easy — if you hire me as your lawyer.”

That last one is a little problematic, because no matter who you bankruptcy lawyer is, some cases aren’t easy.

But some people make it hard on themselves. You have to be realistic about what a lawyer can do for you and what you need to do for yourself. As South Carolina attorney Dana Wilkinson cleverly put it, don’t expect your bankruptcy lawyer to be your mother.

Case in point: just recently one of my clients had their case dismissed because they didn’t take the debtor education course required to get a discharge. Not that I didn’t try to get a hold of her and warn her, but of course she moved, and also forgot to contact us with a new address or number.

The damage: well, all the creditors who were notified at the beginning of the case not to call and bother her will be notified again that the case has cratered. They will undoubtedly take this as an open invitation to call and bother all over again. So a bankruptcy that was all over will come to naught.

Is there any way out at this late date? Sure, a $260 court fee to reopen the case, plus extra fees to me to write up a motion to reopen the case will do the trick. Not very fun — almost like the days Mom made you drink the cod liver oil!

By Doug Beaton

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