As in most legal proceedings, it is possible for someone considering bankruptcy to file a petition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court without having a lawyer represent them.
Can I File Bankruptcy Without an Attorney?
Bankruptcy filing without an attorney requires considerable document gathering. While there are do-it-yourself kits outlining the documents and procedures needed to file bankruptcy, many experts point out the potential loss that may ensue when an individual undertakes such a serious proceeding.
The obvious benefit of filing bankruptcy without an attorney is the lower cost. According to the U.S. Courts website, a fee of $299 is charged to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the most common form of personal bankruptcy. The charge to file a Chapter 13 case is $274. Generally, lawyers' fees for personal bankruptcy cases can range from $1,000 to $2,500, in addition to court fees. Chapter 7 is usually easier for an individual to handle without a lawyer's guidance. Chapter 13 requires the debtor to pay back creditors through a court-order repayment plan over several years.
Gathering Bankruptcy Documents on Your Own
In both types of bankruptcy, the debtor must gather a large number of documents, such as credit card statements, mortgage papers, proof of income from all sources, car loan payments, medical bills -- whatever documents outline their financial situation and status of their property and other assets.
According to Mortgage101.com, the list of creditors must include each creditor's name, contact information, the account number and the balance that is owed. In addition, the debtor should compile a list of expenses including day-to-day costs of their household, daycare, utilities and other housing costs.
Obtaining bankruptcy documents
Bankruptcy forms and instructions can be obtained online or through the nearest federal court. "The instructions will tell you what can be included in the bankruptcy, what items are exempt, and any additional information that may need to be provided," states the website. "Make sure that paperwork has all signatures and any acknowledgments, if necessary. Upon completion of the forms, you should make two copies of the paperwork for your files."
Debtors who file on their own must also complete a credit management course - usually in two installments which cost about $30 each - as part of the bankruptcy process. They must also attend the 341 meeting before a bankruptcy trustee in court.
More Help on Can I File Bankruptcy Without an Attorney?
- Choosing an Attorney - When faced with such a serious financial problem that you have to file for bankruptcy, perhaps the smartest and safest thing to do would be to let the professionals guide you through the rough waters. - read more
- Debtor Education - The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) requires Chapter 13 Bankruptcy filers to complete a course in \"personal financial management\" prior to filing for Bankruptcy. - read more
- What are the Steps For Filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy? - Our attorneys will ensure that you don\'t need to bog yourself down by trying to understand the complicated details of this answer. Essentially, the filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy entails the following. - read more