New revised forms will be required to be used in all bankruptcy filings beginning On December 1, 2015. What effect will this have on bankruptcy filers? It is my professional opinion that the changes to the bankruptcy forms will not likely have the intended effect.
Many of the current Official Bankruptcy Forms will be replaced by substantially revised versions to go into effect on December First. The intent of revising these forms is to help aid “pro se” (self-represented) filers so that they will be able to provide the bankruptcy trustees and the bankruptcy court with more detailed and accurate information when filing for chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcies. The revised forms are to be easier to understand and complete by debtors than the current bankruptcy forms.
Unfortunately, I am of the opinion that this attempt at making the bankruptcy filing process easier will be counterproductive. I fear that it may be difficult for “Pro se” filers to complete the voluminous pages of paperwork and submit everything that will be required in order for the bankruptcy petition to be accepted by the bankruptcy court. Having practiced bankruptcy in Ohio for over a decade, it is my concern that debtors will not answer all of the required questions thoroughly enough to satisfy the court, in addition to failing to provide all required information correctly. If all of the instructions on these revised forms are not followed correctly, the bankruptcy court will most likely dismiss the case. Therefore, even after the bankruptcy filer puts forth all of the efforts to complete the forms, they will still likely need to go to a bankruptcy lawyer in order to get help to get their chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy accepted by the court.
Additionally these newly revised forms may cause the cost of bankruptcy attorney fees to increase due to the added paperwork. The current bankruptcy petition typically ranges from 45 to 60 pages. When these new bankruptcy form requirements begin in December, the number of required pages will substantially increase, thus creating more work for bankruptcy attorneys to file the petition and increasing attorney fees.
Lastly, there will likely be a negative on chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy trustees. Imagine this… a “pro se” filer turns in their petition, schedules, etc. to the bankruptcy trustee on these revised forms, only to find that the forms are not completed correctly. A bankruptcy trustee earns about $60 per bankruptcy case, therefore it is unlikely that the trustee is going to take the time to walk a bankruptcy filer through the process. Thus, considering that the bankruptcy trustee has a large caseload, the case with incomplete or insufficient paperwork will either be dismissed or will cause the bankruptcy filer constant headaches trying to get your case to discharge status.
For additional information on these new forms, visit http://www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies/pending-rules-amendments/pending-changes-bankruptcy-forms. Please take a look at this link to see the many forthcoming revisions of numerous forms.
As a bankruptcy attorney serving Canton and North Eastern Ohio, I am here to help individuals, families, and small business owners to seek the method of debt relief which will provide the best resolution to each specific financial situation and to make the process as painless as possible. Please don’t hesitate to contact my Canton, Ohio bankruptcy office located in Belden Village Tower at (330) 409-2876 with any questions or to schedule a free initial debt relief consultation.