Can You File Bankruptcy Without An Attorney?

The short answer is "yes," but you might not be satisfied with the result. Bankruptcy forms can be downloaded and filled out by anyone, but do you really want to pay the $335 filing fee only to have the form returned to you for errors? When it comes to bankruptcy, there is no such thing as a simple filing. Exemptions, taxes, debts that cannot be discharged, the creditor's meeting, etc. are just the beginning of issues bankruptcy filers must deal with when going through the process. Read on and find out why it's so important to have professional legal help — and not just the kind that just prepares your petition.

What to Know About Preparers

You can find bankruptcy preparation services almost anywhere nowadays. In these places, a paralegal fills in the blanks on the bankruptcy forms and some of them will even take it to the courthouse and file the documents for you. Unfortunately, the fee you pay the business does not include advice or help of any kind.

What to Know About Bankruptcy Lawyers

Filing for bankruptcy begins months in advance for some filers. The way you use your credit cards, your property transfers, how you spend your money, and more will all come under the scrutiny of the bankruptcy trustee. It is vital that you understand what is legal and what might cause you to put your filing off for a few months. Other common chores your bankruptcy lawyer can be expected to perform include:

  1. Evaluating your financial situation and helping you to choose the best bankruptcy type to file — either chapter 7 or chapter 13.
  2. Taking a look and your income and determining whether or not you can file without having to undergo means testing. People who have incomes above the state's median income might need more help with deductions before they can file.
  3. Gathering financial information from you and preparing the entire bankruptcy package. You will know what is needed, what is missing, which debts can be reaffirmed, etc.
  4. Providing advice on exemptions. If you own property, and most people do, the lawyer will do an assessment of your assets to determine what might be at risk. A chapter 7 bankruptcy could put some of your property in jeopardy of seizure. It's vital to understand what is at stake when you file so that you can make an informed decision.
  5. Represent you at the creditor's meeting and any other legal hearings.
  6. Assist you in obtaining the required educational certificates.

Look online at sites like to find a bankruptcy lawyer to help you with your case.