June 8, 2020

Can I File Bankruptcy Without an Attorney?

Facing financial difficulty has a way of affecting every aspect of your life. Bankruptcy appears to be practical. One thought that’s crossed your mind has to do with representation. Do you really need an attorney to handle the bankruptcy?

The answer is no. You can choose to represent yourself. This process is typically referred to as “pro se” which means you are choosing to handle the case on your own.

As with many things in life, the fact that you can do something does not necessarily mean that it’s in your best interest to do it. That’s certainly true when it comes to filing a bankruptcy case. If you do choose to go this route, keep these essentials in mind.

Learn the Bankruptcy Laws

Bankruptcy laws are more comprehensive than many people realize. It’s not just about the broader laws that apply to every bankruptcy court in the nation. There are also differences from one district court to the next that need to be taken into account. That means you will need to do quite a bit of research in order to have some idea of what to do.

Think of the decisions that must be made. You will need to complete the means test so you know if you qualify for one type of bankruptcy or both. There’s the matter of understanding the difference between priority and non-priority debts. The same holds true in terms of classifying assets as exempt or non-exempt.

These are just a few examples of the provisions found in bankruptcy laws that you will need to research and understand. Without that knowledge, moving on to the next step will be almost impossible.

Figuring Out What Documents to File

There are quite a few documents that need to be filed with the court. Along with preparing the petition, there are supporting documents about income, assets, and personal property. You’ll need to prepare and sign documents that confirm your identity as well as your permanent address.

There is also some variance between what you need to provide the court based on the type of bankruptcy you’re pursuing. You’ll need to understand how they differ and how to organize them properly.

Making Sure You Take Required Financial Education Courses

In the midst of preparing all the documents, you will also need to find time to take the financial education courses required as part of the advance preparation. Those courses must be approved by the court and you will need to confirm that the court receives confirmation that you successfully completed those courses. Without it, the court is not likely to approve your petition for bankruptcy protection.

The Court Cannot Offer Legal Advice

Remember that the judge and the court staff are not allowed to provide you with legal advice. In some jurisdictions, courts offer classes to those who wish to represent themselves rather than hiring lawyers. If you’re determined to represent yourself, finding time to attend those courses would be in your best interests.

Unless there are compelling reasons to do otherwise, it makes sense to retain the services of a bankruptcy lawyer. Schedule a consultation today and see how things go. It may become quickly apparent that having legal counsel on your side is the way to go.