As I noted in an earlier post, the paperwork the forms that Oregon and Washington debtors have used to file bankruptcy since the 1980s will be replaced by a new longer set of forms on December 1, 2015. Many critics have noted that the new form, at least at first blush, appear to be more user friendly while soliciting much more in the way of detail. The fear is that debtors who are foolhardy enough to file on their own will leave themselves exposed as they inadvertently report more than they should without advice of counsel.
Other critics have cited the confusion that will likely be produced as courts struggle to wade through reams of information provided by self filers relying on the new forms. Other critics have questioned how the new forms will make bankruptcy easier for anyone, in as much as the average length of a bankruptcy petition will soon become over twenty pages longer than it is today.
One thing the new bankruptcy will provide to the courts is more meaningful data regarding bankruptcy trends. For example it would be extremely difficult today for any bankruptcy court to do any meaningful analysis regarding the percentage of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy filings that were initiated due to student loan debt, or tax debt or mortgage arrears. The new forms should provide more detailed information to the bankruptcy court about the bankruptcy customer. Is this a good thing?
Many of us who practice in the bankruptcy courts are probably a little paranoid about who will receive the filing data other than the courts. Whether this paranoia may in fact be well founded is not for me to say. I will say that if you are in the midst of getting your bankruptcy paperwork put together for filing, you will probably have an easier time filing prior to December 1, 2016 than after. Please contact our offices immediately if the prospect of filing bankruptcy with the new forms raises any concerns for you at all. We would be happy to help.