Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Do You Need a Lawyer?

Every year, thousands of Americans find themselves drowning in debt and in need of filing for bankruptcy. To them the idea of attorney’s fees seems out of the question. They think if they can take the attorney’s fees out of the equation, filing for bankruptcy would be a lot more doable. And to be perfectly clear, by law, you don’t need a lawyer to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, it is most definitely not recommended. While filing for bankruptcy on your own will save you money, it’s a very serious undertaking and it should not be attempted by someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. To give you an idea why, here are some of the steps you would have to undertake if filing alone.

Mean Test

When considering whether to file bankruptcy without a lawyer, the first step is to conduct a “Means Test” to determine whether you even qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You’ll have to answer questions about your income, your debts and assets, and the number of people in your household. The more income and assets you have, the more complicated this process can be.

Credit Report & Counseling

The next step is to obtain credit reports from all three credit bureaus. You’ll need all three reports because creditors don’t typically report to every bureau. If you fail to report a debt, it won’t be discharged in bankruptcy. Next, you’ll have to complete a credit management and financial literacy course.

The Paperwork

Filling out the paperwork is generally the most complicated and time-consuming task facing people who choose to file bankruptcy without a lawyer. After you’ve completed all the forms, attached the relevant documents and submitted the paperwork, you’ll need to promptly respond to any correspondence from the bankruptcy trustee. Failure to do so can get your case dismissed.

Meeting of Creditors

You’ll have to attend your “Meeting of Creditors” on the scheduled date. Although your creditors won’t actually be present, the trustee will be and will ask you a number of standard questions about your case. Be sure to answer truthfully and accurately.

Personal Financial Management Instruction Course

Finally, you must complete a post-filing Personal Financial Management Instruction Course within 45 days of your meeting of creditors. After you’ve completed the course, you can finally take a breath and just to wait to hear whether your debts have been discharged.

If you’re like most people, you wouldn’t even know how to start the above processes. This is why we don’t recommend that anyone try to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy without a lawyer. You’ll want the person representing you to be someone who is trained to do so. When it comes to protecting you and your family from these tough problems… EXPERIENCE COUNTS!!!

To schedule a no-obligation visit with an attorney at any of our offices, please call (800) 978-4788 or fill out an appointment request online. The law is there to help you… and so are we!


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