A Chapter 13 Filed Pro Se Could End Up Being Dead on Arrival

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Filing a Pro Se bankruptcy is often successful when filing a no asset Chapter 7. You can file Pro Se successfully if you can comprehend what you read and follow legal directions. The challenge of filing your own Chapter 7 bankruptcy without a lawyer becomes harder the more non-exempt assets you own, but the challenge of filing any kind of Chapter 13 Pro Se can end up being nothing more than a suicidal attempt if it gets dismissed.

As an example of one such attempt, a Pro Se filer recently came to a bankruptcy forum website asking multiple questions about what needed to be done now after filing a Chapter 13 petition with the bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy court clerk gave the filer a list of missing items on the petition. These items included the Chapter 13 plan, notice of available chapters signed by debtors, verification of the creditor’s mailing list, and a state of related cases required by local bankruptcy rule 1015-2.

The filer opined through his blog the most important missing item on the clerk’s list must be the Chapter 13 plan, asked if there was a form for it, and whether of not the plan could just be a narrative write-up. The Pro Se filer also asked how hard it would be to get an extension to file the missing forms.

Depending on the bankruptcy court in which you file, all of these missing items listed by this illustrated Pro Se filer can be issues resulting in a dismissal of the Chapter 13. A dismissal at this point would likely be based on the filers stated lack of compliance with 11 USC 521, the Filers Duties.

Completing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is successful in the United States only about 30 percent of the time. One of many reasons a Chapter 13 might not be successful is because filers make errors in filling out the complicated paper work necessary for a completion of this type of bankruptcy.

Filling out the paperwork without errors gives a bankruptcy court the needed information required to help guide the filer through the bankruptcy process and toward a successful conclusion. Although there is a process for correcting paperwork errors, correcting the errors can often be harder than properly filling out the forms in the beginning. Those who have been trained and have the experience in both bankruptcy law and procedures are often the most successful in bringing a Chapter 13 to completion.

The bankruptcy system, like most legal court systems, is not very forgiving when it comes to ignorance of its laws. It is not likely a bankruptcy court will extend a 521 dead line without a good cause for doing so.

As to the question the Pro Se filer raised about the Chapter 13 plan being a narrative, experience within the bankruptcy system would have taught him that many bankruptcy courts recommend using their own “Model Plan” to help the filer in making their plan.

What the Pro Se filer should understand is that all the missing items that were listed are equally important in helping him finish a Chapter 13 plan. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer would most likely have avoided those particular mistakes and prevented the filer’s petition from a dismissal, or looking at it from another angle, dead on arrival for his attempt.

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