Two distinctly different markets dominate providers of bankruptcy software: debtors & bankruptcy attorneys. Each market has special needs, budget constraints and broad diversity. Programs vary widely because of these unique demands.
For debtors filing pro se, bankruptcy software programs offer a logical approach to organize required information. Most programs include questionnaires with instructions. They provide help sections with glossaries of common terms. If you are filing your first case, the benefits provided by well designed bankruptcy software programs are a bargain. Programs should be easy to use while providing automatic updates of forms. Program should provide safety features which catch common errors. For instance, if a mandatory schedule remains blank or omitted, the program should provide an alert and recommend solutions. This feature prevents unexpected dismals.
The cost of bankruptcy software for debtors is a poor measure of program quality. Many newer programs cost less, yet provide greater flexibility, extensive fill in bankruptcy forms and more features than older programs that are still on the market. All bankruptcy software programs for debtors, including all instructions and tips, should be reviewed regularly for compliance with constant changes in bankruptcy law by qualified attorneys. For recommendations, see Bankruptcy Software for Individual Debtors.
Busy bankruptcy practices are sometimes referred to as "mills" or "cotton gins" because of the high volume of cotton bond stationary filed with courts. Bankruptcy software programs designed for attorneys include many options and capabilities which are of little use to debtors. For example, all attorney bankruptcy software should be designed to integrate seamlessly with the federal electronic data filing system which is only available to qualified attorneys. The program should also provide menus drawing on the power of the federal data base which include automated filing and payment of fees over secured connections. These technologies are expensive to maintain on a national level, and are a worthless features for individual debtors filing one case.
Bankruptcy software for attorneys should include all chapters under the code, 7. 11, 12 and 13, or stated similarly, 75% of the programs capability will be wasted by a debtor filing pro se. For debtors, the large price difference and added user complexity is seldom worth the effort required to become familiar with the program. These programs are designed to be used daily by experienced bankruptcy staff. Prices differ dramatically, yet easily pay for themselves many times over when used by any lawyer filing consumer cases. Soon, all cases filed by bankruptcy lawyers will be filed using specialty bankruptcy software because of federal mandate becoming effective over the next few years. For recommendations and preferred benefits, see Bankruptcy Software for Attorneys.