How to Go Bankrupt Without a Lawyer

By Teo Spengler

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.

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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.

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How to Amend Chapter 7 After it Has Been Filed


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How to File for Bankruptcy for a Voluntary Repossession

Other than a house, your vehicle may be the most valuable asset you own, but repossession may seem like your only option when you can’t make your car payments. With repossession, your bank can take your car, sell it and apply the proceeds toward your loan balance. However, bankruptcy may allow you to restructure your loan so you don’t face repossession, and bankruptcy can erase your remaining debt if your vehicle has already been repossessed.

Legitimate Reasons for Bankruptcy

If you're experiencing financial hardship and considering filing for bankruptcy, you'll need to have a legitimate reason. Individuals usually file under Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings -- sometimes called "debt wipeout," or under Chapter 13, which offers a repayment plan with creditors while the debtor is under court protection. Before you file for bankruptcy, consider your financial circumstances, your debt level and your reasons for doing so -- bankruptcy will impact your finances beyond your immediate debts.

Do You Need an Attorney to File Chapter 7?

If you are facing a mountain of debt, you may conclude that you'll never be able to repay everything you owe. Filing a petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy might be the only way out, but the cost of an attorney could be holding you back. It is possible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy without an attorney, although attempting to do it on your own is unwise. Fortunately, help is available and it may be more affordable than you think.


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