The Dangers of “Do It Yourself” Bankruptcy Software

When someone is facing the possibility of bankruptcy, the idea of coming up with the money to ‘pay for bankruptcy’ can seem like a stretch. This dilemma struck a Harvard sophomore to come up with a seemingly ideal solution: An online tool that “generates your bankruptcy forms and gets them reviewed by a lawyer for free.” This company promotes itself as a non-profit organization whose mission is to “help low-income Americans in financial distress get a fresh start through Chapter 7 bankruptcy at no cost.”

Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, I can tell you that as an experienced bankruptcy attorney, who has eliminated nearly a billion dollars of debt for our clients – IT IS. I called this company and posed as a consumer. It became clear that this was in my opinion, a lawyer referral company that makes money through this referral system.

A Harvard education and technology can only go so far, and then there’s the law. One crucial detail that has seemingly been overlooked in the creation of this software (and others like it) is the importance of the bankruptcy Means Test.

Filing for bankruptcy is a complex process. Although, Chapter 7 is the most common form of bankruptcy, not everyone is eligible to file for it. In 2005, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Protection Act (BAPCPA), which established a means test that determines whether an individual is eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Under this means test, someone who wants to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida must show an average income that is below Florida’s median income in order to qualify.

Whether you are above or below the median income is just the first step. You also must supply additional information about your actual expenses for items beyond food, housing and transportation. While most bankruptcy documents are form-based, this does not mean that they are easy to complete. The changes enacted in 2005 to Federal bankruptcy law added some complicated requirements to the field of bankruptcy. The consequences of making an error can mean the case is delayed or even thrown out after the filing is made.

Some judges look to your ability to pay as part of the “totality of the circumstances” test that may bar you from Chapter 7 bankruptcy, even if your income is above or below the median. This determining factor should not be left to chance. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can ensure your income is properly calculated and that you are truly eligible for Chapter 7, while making the process a painless one.

Take our advice, bankruptcy software that advertise themselves as, ‘Do It Yourself’ Bankruptcy Kits sold on the internet, and Filing Bankruptcy Pro Se are all dangerous. Most bankruptcy attorneys offer free consultations. The Benenati Law Firm offers affordable payment plans and reduced rates to those who qualify. We believe bankruptcy should be an affordable option to all.

If you have questions on this topic or are struggling with debt, call our law firm to schedule a free consultation. Having debt makes you stay up at night. It stresses you out. It ruins relationships. I went through it. Boldly, I mustered up the courage to call a bankruptcy attorney and I pressed the restart button in 2008. And even though eleven years has passed since I made that decision to restart my life, I never forgot what it did for me and how it helped me start over.

It even inspired me and my law firm to become the largest filers of bankruptcies in the country and in the top two in Florida- all from our offices in Orlando and Kissimmee. The Benenati Law Firm has eliminated nearly a billion dollars of debt for its bankruptcy clients, making the firm one of the top twenty filers of bankruptcy in the nation.

Remember, we are local in your hometown. We make our hours convenient for our clients and offer free consultations on Saturdays (9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.) along with our normal business hours throughout the week. Go to or call 407-777-7777 to set up a free private consultation and learn more information. Because Life Has a Restart Button.