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Understand the Requirements

Bankruptcy generally is considered the debt management option of last resort because the results are long lasting and far reaching. The Bankruptcy Abuse and Prevention Act of 2005 established more stringent rules for consumers and attorneys.

The filing process may be difficult for debtors:

  • Debtors must file more documents; including itemized statements of monthly net income, proof of income (pay stubs) for the last 60 days, and tax returns for the preceding year (four years for Chapter 13).
  • Debtors must take a pre-filing credit counseling and post-filing education course to have debts discharged.
  • Debtors face increased filing fees, plus fees for credit counseling/education.
  • The bankruptcy petition and process are more complicated, so it's very difficult to file without an attorney.

The filing process is difficult for lawyers:

  • An attorney's signature on a petition certifies that the attorney has performed a reasonable investigation into the circumstances giving rise to the petition.
  • Attorneys must carefully review documents such as tax returns and pay stubs, as well as ask clients for credit reports.
  • Attorneys are more apprehensive about sanctions.