As of December 1, 2015, new bankruptcy forms were required to be used for all new cases. The purpose of redesigning the official bankruptcy forms was to permit more debtors (filers) to complete and file their own bankruptcy cases without the assistance of an attorney. Honestly, many bankruptcy attorneys were concerned that this would mean fewer clients, which from a business standpoint would be a nail on the coffin of bankruptcy law firms since the number of case filings is WAY down from a few years ago. “I’m not only the lawyer, I’m also the client!” they might say.
Normally, a form redesign takes about two years. In this case, the new forms took seven(!) years to complete, and a professional forms design consultant was retained to help design the new forms.
What could go wrong?
Well, we as bankruptcy practitioners got our first look at the new forms back in November. I printed out the instructions for debtors to follow to fill out the forms themselves, and-this actually happened-it drained my printer of toner. The old forms have a 14 page instruction form. The instructions for the new forms are 42 pages!
In fact, almost all of the actual schedules themselves are longer, and more complicated than the old forms. One form that used to be two pages is now five. This applies to most of the new forms.
Even worse (from a usability standpoint) is that the new forms are very confusing and overly complicated compared to their old counterparts. I’ve been a bankruptcy lawyer for about 17 years, and I’ve filed thousands of bankruptcies. But the new forms even confused me the first time I looked at them. So much of the new forms just don’t make much sense, and I’m really surprised that someone approved the new forms.
The old forms were clear, concise, and to the point. The new ones are convoluted, confusing, and LONG.
When I meet a new potential client, I tell them that they are about to learn more about bankruptcy than they ever wanted to know. I do this because to me it’s critical that the clients know what to expect and how the process works. Accordingly, I don’t mind when a potential client comes to us after they try to fill out their bankruptcy paperwork on their own; the more they understand the process the better.
But despite intentions to the contrary, I have no doubt that when potential clients try to fill out the new forms on their own, they’ll be Googling “bakersfield bankruptcy lawyer” in no time. Bankruptcy law is complicated enough without making the process of filing more complicated.
How Bakersfield and Temecula Bankruptcy Lawyer Scott Bell Can Help
If you have found yourself in unmanageable debt, but are still hesitant to file for bankruptcy, come discuss it with us with a free consultation. You can reach us at (661) 243-1737 or (951) 296-6775. You can also speak with us directly through the Live Chat feature of our website.
Don’t let your debt ruin your life. There is a way out. Let us help.