Yes, bankruptcy can be filed legally without the assistance of a lawyer. But, should you?
Every year, thousands of Americans are too poor to pay their debts and cannot afford bankruptcy. It’s not surprising that bankruptcy expenses account for the majority of attorneys’ fees. You might wonder, “Do I really require a lawyer to file bankruptcy?”
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It all depends on the complexity of your case. It might be possible to file for bankruptcy on your own if you don’t have a lot of assets or make little money. Although filing bankruptcy on your own may save you money, it can be a difficult task. You will need to gather all your financial documentation and file the paperwork in a timely manner. Then, you’ll need to communicate with your bankruptcy trustee. It is important to fully understand both the federal and state laws.
This section will provide a step-by, detailed guide for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It also includes a few tips and tricks to make it as painless and simple as possible.
- The Process
- These steps should be followed when you file for bankruptcy.
- Find out if your income meets the means test
To determine if you are eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is important to first conduct a “Means test” without consulting a lawyer.
A test form is available from the federal government. The test can also be found online in simplified forms. Questions regarding:
- Your monthly income
- Seek out non-exempt assets and your debts to determine if they can be discharged.
How many people live in your household?
If the following conditions are met, bankruptcy can be handled on your own.
- Few assets are yours
- Your state’s median household income is less than your household income
- You have not been accused of fraud
- Get your Credit Reports and Complete Credit Counseling
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Next, you will need credit reports from all three credit agencies. Because creditors may not report to all bureaus, you will need all three reports. Failure to report a debt will result in it not being discharged in bankruptcy.
The next step is to take a financial literacy and credit counseling course. The U.S. Trustee Program maintains a list of credit education agencies that are approved by the U.S.
- Complete the paperwork
If you file bankruptcy on your own, filling out the forms for bankruptcy is the most difficult and time-consuming task.
Save time and stress by downloading the bankruptcy forms package. These packages are affordable and include all forms required to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in your particular state.
Once you have completed the forms, attach any relevant documents to the paperwork and send it in person or via mail. You must respond promptly to any correspondence sent by the bankruptcy trustee. You could lose your case if you fail to respond.
- Participate in the Meeting of Creditors
Your “Meeting of Creditors”, will be held on the set date. While your creditors may not be there, the trustee will and will ask you several questions about your case. You must answer honestly and accurately.
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- Learn Personal Financial Management
You must also complete a post-filing Personal Financial Management Instructive Course within 45 days after your meeting with creditors. The U.S. To find a course approved by Trustee Program, take a look at the U.S. Once you have completed the course, wait for the bankruptcy court to inform you if your debts are discharged.
How difficult is it to file for bankruptcy on your own?
Before you file a bankruptcy petition, you will need to have a basic understanding of the legal issues. Other factors will influence how difficult a case will turn out, such as:
Type of bankruptcy
- No matter how complicated your case may be
- Your current financial situation
- You may also have obligations such as student loans, car loan, child support, or alimony.
Although your bankruptcy case may seem straightforward, it is important to be familiar with the Bankruptcy Code and fill out extensive paperwork. It may be in your best interests to have a consultation with an attorney at the very least to ensure you are on the right track.
What if you don’t have any money?
To complete your bankruptcy petition, you will need to pay at most a filing fee as well as the financial counseling and financial management course fees.
If you don’t have the funds, you can request a waiver of the fee (in Chapter 7) or ask the bankruptcy judge (in Chapter 13) to include the payment in your repayment plan.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcies and Other Circumstances
You can file bankruptcy in certain cases without the assistance of a lawyer. However, there are exceptions depending on what type of bankruptcy you have. Some examples include:
A bankruptcy lawyer is needed if your company or partnership is in danger of going bankrupt.
You may need to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy if your income is not sufficient to pass the Means Test. You can file bankruptcy even if you don’t have a lawyer in that situation, but it will be more complicated. Because Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases are more complex than Chapter 7 bankruptcies,
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You will need to prepare a repayment plan that outlines how you intend to repay creditors. You can download a bankruptcy forms pack to help you stay organized.
An experienced attorney may be able to offer legal advice.
While filing bankruptcy without an attorney is possible, it might not be the best option for you. A bankruptcy attorney is available to help you with your bankruptcy case.