So you are thinking about filing bankruptcy: Chapter 7, or Chapter 13 without a lawyer. The top reason individuals file bankruptcy alone is they are worried they will not be able to have the funds needed to hire someone to help. Filing alone is not a decision you should take lightly. If you make any missteps, you could end up far worse than what you are trying to rectify. Before you make the decision to file alone, there are a few important points you should take into serious consideration.
How Much Does it Really Cost to File Bankruptcy?
Yes, it is true. To get quality representation, you’ll need to pay for it. Before you jump to any conclusions, you may find that it is more affordable than you think. Most consumer bankruptcy lawyers offer a free initial consultation. In the initial consultation, you should have a clear understanding of your discarded debt and any repayment plans. In most cases, individuals may find that what that will pay to file bankruptcy is far less than what they would be paying if they continue to try to service their debts. Not to mention the stress, frustration, aggravation and years they would spend rehabilitating their credit.
Can You Go It Alone?
It is certainly possible to do so. There are so many factors that weigh on an important decision like filing a bankruptcy case on your own, and much depends on the complexity of the case.
- whether you’re filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy
- the amount of your income and property
- the complexity of the matter, and
- whether you’re comfortable researching and handling your case.
keep in mind that even filing a simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires a fair amount of time and research on your part. If you want to complete your case, obtain a discharge, and not put any of your property at risk, you have to:
- accurately fill out several bankruptcy forms and schedules, statements and fees
- learn how bankruptcy laws work
- research your state’s exemptions, and
- follow all the rules and procedures necessary to complete the bankruptcy process.
When You’ll Need a Bankruptcy Attorney
It’s best practice for any bankruptcy filer to hire an attorney. That said, as discussed above, individuals can represent themselves in the right circumstances. It just depends on the case and the comfort level of the person.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a powerful financial tool that can allow you to:
- catch up on your missed mortgage or car loan payments
- eliminate unsecured junior liens (such as a second mortgage) from your home through lien stripping, or
- reduce the principal balance or interest rate on your car loan with a cramdown.
But Chapter 13 bankruptcy is considerably more complicated and labor-intensive than Chapter 7. If you want the court to confirm (approve) your Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must propose a feasible repayment plan, which is difficult to do without legal knowledge and the software used by bankruptcy lawyers.
Also, if you wish to pay less on your house or car by stripping a second mortgage or cramming down a car loan, you’ll need to file a motion or adversary proceeding with the court, which also is not an easy task.
You’re Filing a Complicated Chapter 7
While you might be able to handle a simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy on your own, it makes sense to hire an attorney for more complicated cases. For instance, it’s a good idea to hire an attorney if you:
- have a significant amount of income that might potentially disqualify you from filing a Chapter 7
- have a lot of assets that might be at risk
- own a business
- have debts that might not be dischargeable in bankruptcy
- recently transferred valuable assets out of your name, or
- have creditors that might challenge your discharge.
Remember, if you don’t believe you can navigate through the bankruptcy process, or you are not comfortable with it, it might best to hire a bankruptcy lawyer.
Interested in learning more about the bankruptcy process. Take the first step and schedule a free consultation with a bankruptcy attorney at Solution Law apc. We have assisted many clients in getting their life back on track.
SOLUTION LAW apc
16580 Harbor Blvd, Suite I
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
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