Can You File Bankruptcy Without a Lawyer?

After deliberating for a while, you’ve come to the conclusion that bankruptcy is the best choice for your finances. Now what? What are you supposed to do to start this process?

First, know that you aren’t alone. In 2017, there were around 772,000 bankruptcies filed by non-businesses. Once you’ve given yourself a moment to breathe, your next step should be to start researching the process of filing. As you do your research, you might start to wonder whether it’s necessary to get a lawyer to help. Do you really need another expense when filing for bankruptcy?

We’re here to help. Read on and find out whether you’ll need a bankruptcy attorney.

What do I need to file for bankruptcy?

Once you have decided to file for bankruptcy, there are many steps you must follow. First, you will have to take a means test to determine what type of bankruptcy you are eligible for. A means test measures your household income to determine your eligibility for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you do not pass the means test based on your income, you can provide supplemental documentation to prove your financial situation. These documents can include tax returns, proof of real estate or other property, an average of your monthly expenses and proof of your average income from all of your income sources.

When your eligibility has been confirmed, you will then be ready to proceed with your bankruptcy filing. Be aware that your case could be complicated by a number of factors, including:

  • Non-dischargeable debt like student loans, alimony and child support
  • A recent divorce
  • Fraudulently incurred debts
  • Multiple sources of income

Do you really need a lawyer to file for bankruptcy?

Getting a bankruptcy lawyer ensures that you receive the best possible outcome when you are filing for bankruptcy. There are many steps before, during and after filing for bankruptcy that can go wrong, and making one error could cause your case to be dismissed. You may end up losing more property than you intended or you could be left with debts that you have failed to discharge, causing you further financial problems.

If you are considering going without a lawyer due to cost, understand that bankruptcy comes with a cost regardless of whether or not you use a lawyer. On average, filing costs can be upwards of $300. This does not include other costs associated with bankruptcy, including losing property and debtor education courses. An attorney may be able to work with your budget and will let you know what sort of cost to expect up front.

Your bankruptcy attorney will be able to help you with:

  • Understanding the types of debts you have, the assets you own, pending lawsuits and tax debts
  • Determining what to do with assets
  • Ensuring your documents are all collected, include the proper detail and are accurate
  • Advising you during the legal proceedings and make everything clear for you
  • Providing information regarding your next steps after your bankruptcy is approved
  • Explaining the different types of bankruptcy
  • Determining your eligibility for bankruptcy

Are you looking for a bankruptcy lawyer to help you get your finances back on track? When the time comes to get out of debt, contact Reynolds & Gold. The first conference with our bankruptcy attorneys is free and of no risk to you.