Bankruptcy Lawyer Bryan W. Stone answers the question “Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?”
Experts in the field of bankruptcy law gathered recently in Arizona to discuss legal changes and how these changes have impacted the majority of debtors. Those gathered at the symposium concluded that the changes that were part of the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) were not only ineffective, but served to make the bankruptcy process more confusing and more expensive for debtors. Ultimately, changes designed to make the process more difficult succeed only in driving away potential filers, helping creditors at the expense of those who may desperately need the relief offered by bankruptcy protection.
Given the 10th anniversary of the BAPCPA, experts decided to get together and debate the pros and cons of the major bankruptcy overhaul. The opinions among those at the conference were decidedly against the reforms, saying that on several fronts they had made things harder for those filing. Though the changes may have been designed with the best intentions, the practical impact was often negative.
One good example of the problems created by BAPCPA is the credit counseling requirement. BAPCPA mandated that all those individual debtors seeking bankruptcy protection receive credit counseling prior to filing. The goal was to ensure that debtors learned tools that would help avoid similar financial problems in the future. Though noble, the result was often only to increase the overall costs associated with the process and add to confusion. Many debtors weren’t sure where to start or who to go to for help. Also, even though fee waivers are possible, the costs associated with the counseling dissuaded some people from even entertaining the possibility, another counterproductive measure.
Another part of the overhaul that was criticized at the conference was the means test that is part of a Chapter 7 filing. Experts say that the means test is designed too rigidly and excludes from consideration many expenses that are part of most families’ budgets. This means that, according to the overly formal constraints of the Chapter 7 means test, a family may appear to make too much money to qualify, while in reality the family’s disposable income would place them within an acceptable range. The means test works to weed out otherwise deserving families, making the process more expensive and thus less helpful for those who might really need it.
Generally, experts appear to be of the opinion that the reforms to the bankruptcy law created roadblocks for debtors. Though it’s important to ensure that the bankruptcy system isn’t abused and to guarantee that creditors are protected, it’s equally as important that debtors not be unfairly burdened. Creating hurdles to the process doesn’t help avoid abuse; it instead often dissuades those in genuine need from asking questions and beginning the process of filing.
If you find yourself needing the services of a Charlotte, North Carolina bankruptcy attorney, please call the skilled lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC find additional resources here. As professionals who are experienced at handling all kinds of bankruptcy matters, our attorneys will provide you with the best advice for your particular situation.
About the Author
Kyle Frost joined Arnold & Smith, PLLC in 2013 where he focuses his practice on all aspects of civil litigation and bankruptcy, including: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 13, home loan modifications and landlord-tenant issues.
Born and raised in upstate New York, Mr. Frost attended the University at Albany on a Presidential Scholarship, graduating magna cum laude with a double major in Political Science and Sociology. He went on to attended Wake Forest University School of Law in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Following college, Mr. Frost spent over a year teaching English in South Korea. He worked in a private school in Seoul developing curriculum, English programs, and educating both children and adults that were interested in learning a new language.
In his spare time, Mr. Frost enjoys homebrewing, fishing, and travelling.
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