When debts are piling up, and creditors begin to claim their money, filing for bankruptcy can be the only solution one has to obtain debt relief and enjoy a fresh start. Under these circumstances, paying for the services of a Myrtle Beach bankruptcy attorney may seem an unnecessary expense. While the benefits of working with an attorney when it comes to delicate legal issues like this one are incommensurable, it may help to see what filing for bankruptcy without legal advice entails.
The Implications of Self-Representation in Myrtle Beach Bankruptcy Filing
The US Bankruptcy Court for the District of South Carolina warns that, although debtors can represent themselves in bankruptcy cases, the process is complex and the fact that they are not familiar with the state and federal laws may prevent them from obtaining the relief they need and want.
The bankruptcy filing process includes meeting strict deadlines, making it difficult, if not impossible for the debtors to gather all the documents and information they need. The Court directly advises debtors to consult a South Carolina bankruptcy lawyer and warns that the Court’s employees do not have the permission to provide legal advice or answer related questions.
As for the bankruptcy filing process, it has three main stages, each implying several actions, detailed below.
1. Before Filing for Bankruptcy in Myrtle Beach
Those planning to file for bankruptcy on their own should follow the next steps:
- Learn more about bankruptcy, the laws regulating it, the various chapters, and the relief and obligations they bring about.
- Get credit counseling. It is mandatory for individual debtors and should take place within the six months preceding their filing for bankruptcy. Those who do not prove their completion of credit counseling and do not qualify for waiver or exemption will not be eligible, and the court will dismiss their application.
- Fill in the necessary documents and forms, different ones for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
- List all their creditors’ names and addresses, anyone with a claim or lien against their property.
- Obtain copies of their pay stubs for the last two months before filing for bankruptcy, or explain that they do not have them through a self-employment statement.
2. Myrtle Beach Bankruptcy Filing Requirements
The bankruptcy file should include the documents corresponding to the relevant bankruptcy chapter. The minimum requirements for starting a bankruptcy case are:
- Voluntary Petition
- Form B121
- Creditors list.
Applicants can email the documents, send them by courier, or deliver them personally to SC 29201, 1100 Laurel Street, Columbia. Horry County residents filing for bankruptcy under chapter 13 can send documents by fax or email, as per the procedures of Operating Order 14-07.
There is also a bankruptcy filing fee, payable to the Clerk’s Office in Columbia, in cash, by money order, or by certified check. The fee changes regularly, so it is important to check its value before making any payments. Those eligible may apply for an exemption or waiver.
3. After Filing for Myrtle Beach Bankruptcy
After filing for bankruptcy, debtors will receive a Court notice containing important case information and deadlines, like their case number, trustee name and address, date and place of the meeting with the creditors for those who file under Chapter 13, and list of missing documents and the date for providing them.
Debtors also have to supply copies of their most recent federal tax returns to their trustee, no later than seven days before the Creditors’ Meeting, and attend the meeting known as the 341 Hearing. The purpose of this meeting is to clarify the situation of the debtor’s property, income, debts, and expenses to both the trustee and the creditors.
Another requirement for debtors wanting to file for bankruptcy on their own is to get financial management counseling. This means finding an approved financial management provider, taking the course, and receiving the graduation certificate, or requesting a waiver, if applicable.
Self-Representation vs. Working with a Myrtle Beach Bankruptcy Attorney
As seen above, the process of filing for bankruptcy without the help of a lawyer is very long and complicated. Debtors will have to invest a lot of time and effort, and they still risk having their case dismissed because of a small error.
Without in-depth knowledge of bankruptcy laws and of what filing for bankruptcy under one chapter or another entails, they have no guarantee that the solution they are choosing is the best one for their particular case.
Under these circumstances, the perspective of working with a Myrtle Beach bankruptcy attorney is much more attractive. It allows debtors to save time and money, and make sure the bankruptcy filing process goes smooth and fast by leaving all the above-discussed steps to their legal advisor.
Those who cannot afford to hire a bankruptcy attorney for the entire bankruptcy filing process can still discuss their case with a lawyer, especially since the preliminary discussion is usually free of charge. Without paying anything, they can find out what bankruptcy chapter is more suitable for their particular case, what assets they can keep and under what circumstances, how much money they still owe and to whom, and how they can plan their remaining debts to match their limited budget.
Those who are not satisfied with the advice they receive or simply decide to file for bankruptcy on their own, are free to do so and follow the steps described above. Before they do that, however, they owe it to themselves to consider the other alternative available as well.
As shown above, self-representation brings about huge risks and requires considerable effort. On the other hand, lawyers save their clients priceless time, headaches, and, most importantly, valuable assets. With their help, the bankruptcy filing process becomes a mere formality, a matter of signing a few papers and making the best decision for one’s particular case.
Consult with a South Carolina Bankruptcy Attorney Today
Are you planning to file for bankruptcy in Horry County? Don’t take any measures before discussing your options with a Myrtle Beach bankruptcy attorney at David Aylor Law Offices. Let us help you keep as many of your assets as possible and ease your way into a new debt-free life by scheduling a free case review!
David Aylor is a Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Charleston, Walterboro, and Myrtle Beach, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 11 years. David Aylor believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.