Do It Yourself Bankruptcy
If you're considering filing for personal bankruptcy protection to eliminate your debts, you may have considered whether do-it-yourself or DIY bankruptcy might be a feasible option for you. While it is certainly legal to file for bankruptcy without the help of a bankruptcy lawyer, most insiders (including the U.S. government) do not recommend doing so.
If you'd like to arrange a free consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer and learn about your options for filing bankruptcy, please fill out this form.
The Process of Filing for Bankruptcy
In order to get an idea of what filing for bankruptcy entails (and why it might be a good idea to enlist the help of a professional), here’s an outline of the bankruptcy process.
- Choose your chapter: Before you even file your paperwork with the bankruptcy court, you must determine whether you want to file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Both types of bankruptcy provide debt relief to filers, but they work very differently and tend to suit people in different financial situations, or with different types of debt. While you could certainly do the research on both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy to begin a do-it-yourself bankruptcy filing, you may save yourself some serious time by hiring a bankruptcy lawyer to help you examine your situation.
- File your schedules: Once you've chosen which chapter to file under (and, if necessary, taken the Chapter 7 means test to determine your eligibility), you must file your initial paperwork (called “schedules”) with the court. These forms outline your income, debts, assets and financial obligations and are used as the basis of the court's determination whether to accept your bankruptcy case.
- Attend the creditors meeting: Shortly after you file your schedules, you will have to attend a meeting of the creditors, at which you testify to the accuracy and completeness of all the information in your schedules. At this time, any of your creditors may object to the terms of your bankruptcy case (which might include a discharge of debt or a partial or full repayment, depending on your case).
- Make payments: If you've filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, you'll have to stay current on your repayment plan for the next three to five years.
The Role of a Bankruptcy Lawyer
So how can a bankruptcy lawyer help your bankruptcy case? A lawyer may help take care of any the following:
- Prevent accidental fraud: If any information on your bankruptcy schedules is incorrect or incomplete, the bankruptcy court could throw out your case for being fraudulent. Worse, you could face fines or jail time. Your lawyer can help make sure you understand all the questions on the forms and guide you toward finding all the pertinent information.
- Help you meet deadlines: Another reason the court might dismiss your case would be if you missed an important deadline for filing paperwork or appearing in court. An attorney who is familiar with the court's requirements, though, could help keep you on track and make sure you don't lose the court's protection because of a simple mistake.
- Help you choose the right chapter: In the early stages of your bankruptcy filing, a lawyer can counsel you on which type of bankruptcy would likely work best for your particular financial situation.
Connect with a Lawyer Today
Even if you're still convinced that you'd like to file a do it yourself bankruptcy petition, you may want to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer to get a legal opinion. You can take advantage of a free consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer to do just that. Simply fill out the case review form on this page to take action today.