How to Go Bankrupt Without a Lawyer

by Teo Spengler
Bankruptcy can give individuals a fresh start.

Bankruptcy can give individuals a fresh start.

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When you want to avail yourself of bankruptcy protection, an attorney comes in handy. Legal representation is mandatory for business entities that file for bankruptcy, but individuals can represent themselves. If you decide to file your own bankruptcy petition, learn about the law and procedures before jumping in.

Bankruptcy Laws

Bankruptcy laws offer individuals and businesses who cannot pay their creditors a chance to start again either by paying debts with liquidated assets or by setting up a realistic repayment plan. However, the procedure is technical and mistakes can affect your rights. The complex rules apply to individuals representing themselves as well as those represented by attorneys.

Study Laws and Procedures

Filling out a bankruptcy petition might not look very difficult, but before you begin, take the time to inform yourself about the different types of bankruptcy and federal court procedures. The forms and instructions are available from the court and also from online legal document providers. Review everything you will need for the process before taking the first formal step.

Diligence and Precision

Bankruptcy forms must be completed like take-home exams, not off the top of your head. For example, when you are asked to list property and debts, dig through your files to be sure nothing is left out or forgotten. Omissions can have serious financial consequences. Even if you don't hire an attorney to represent you in court, you might consider hiring an attorney just to review your documents, or using a federal court facilitator, if available.