Upsolve – A Good Option?
By: Julie Kreutzer, Esq.
Up till now, if a debtor couldn’t afford counsel for a Chapter 7, they had two options: 1) filling out all the forms on their own, then deal with creditors and the hearing on their own with no assistance, or 2) scheduling with an attorney like me at their hourly rate to get some input as to whether their forms were correct and how to do the 341 hearing and deal with creditors. Now there’s Upsolve, which helps debtors do the forms through their software. This allows attorneys like me, who are willing to consult with clients (not all attorneys do this), to affordably assist clients.
Is Upsolve Legit?
I was wary of Upsolve at first, since I thought it was a possible scam, but it was put together by a student from Harvard who created a Nonprofit to help the kind of debtor who struggled and often failed to do their own bankruptcy. I just consulted with a client who wanted me to review and comment on the forms Upsolve software generated and give him advice afterwards on a variety of issues. I felt Upsolve did an excellent job and am quite impressed. Here are my thoughts:
- Cost! There is a quantum difference between paying an attorney like me somewhere around $350.00 to consult after using Upsolve vs. $1-2,000 or more for full representation (depending on the amount of time needed and varying attorney rates.)
- The client and the attorney don’t need to go back and forth on the information needed for the forms, which is time consuming and can be aggravating for both parties.
- The software populates the forms consistently though if you answer a question incorrectly, you still need to go in and correct the forms since they need to have consistent information. It also provides key warnings and advice on how to do certain tasks.
- For complex cases, there’s an option to get a free evaluation by a private attorney.
- There’s a reason why the bankruptcy court warns debtors that without an attorney, their case kicked can be kicked out of Court with prejudice or get a debtor in legal trouble. It’s easier and reassuring to have an attorney working with you than wading through the forms alone even with this software. It’s easy to make mistakes that are dangerous. Also, the 341 hearing is intimidating for many debtors as well as another landmine for a case. Many debtors have specific questions as to how to deal with creditors and about the Bankruptcy process that Upsolve can’t really cope with since it’s not designed to advise each debtor on their questions and concerns.
- The free Evaluation offered by Upsolve is very helpful but only goes so far. Most cases have what I call “Red Flag issues”; which are items I think a Trustee is going to want to know more about that are or could be trouble. I can see them when I look at the documents and warn the client about how to deal with them. Be assured the Trustee will make notes as to a filing and at the 341 hearing will want to know more so it’s crucial to deal with these issues. When I identify issues like this, I work with my client to resolve them or be ready to discuss with the Trustee and occasionally, it means it’s a really bad idea to file at all, but it’s better to know that and pursue other options rather than discover it at a 341 hearing when it’s too late.
Upsolve opens up a new world for debtors who can’t afford to retain an attorney, though I recommend having an experienced attorney review the forms to make sure they are accurate, advise on red flag issues and coach the client on issues like how to deal with a 341 hearing.