Do I Need a Lawyer to File Bankruptcy?
Filing for bankruptcy can ad to your already stretched budget, especially if you hire a specialized attorney. If you are struggling to pay your basic financial needs, this can be an added stress. But is it true that you need a lawyer to file bankruptcy? Are you able to save on legal costs by doing this on your own? Below are a few steps on how you can get started on this process.
How to decide if you need a bankruptcy lawyer to assist in filing your bankruptcy
As is the case with most legal issues a person can face, an individual can file bankruptcy on their own. The better question to ask is if doing so is a good idea. This process is very complicated, as you need to make sure you understand how to complete the bankruptcy schedules, know whether you can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, understand means testing, and know what paperwork must be completed and when it should be submitted to bankruptcy court. A lot of people don’t have the extra time to do the research to answer all of this questions and make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
If you feel that you lack time to do the research and ensure that everything is done correctly, then it’s recommended that you speak to a bankruptcy lawyer. They are the same as other lawyers, the difference being that they are specialized in this area. A qualified attorney will be able to simplify the bankruptcy process, including complicated filings such as a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which is the one you should use if you have significant assets.
Situations where you can file bankruptcy on your own
If the bankruptcy you need to file is a basic Chapter 7 bankruptcy case with no assets and you have the time to review all essential requirements, you should be able to file for bankruptcy yourself. You will need to complete some forms, which may be time-consuming and arduous, but with the help of the right resources, you will be able to figure out how to file the documents on your own. However, mistakes can be costly so do this at your own risk.
You should consult with an attorney if you do not qualify for Chapter 7 if you have any assets that need protecting or you need to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A specialized bankruptcy lawyer will assist you in completing all your bankruptcy schedules, and they will create your three to five-year Chapter 13 debt repayment plan.
How much money is saved by filing bankruptcy on your own without the use of a bankruptcy lawyer?
The fees you would need to pay your attorney can vary depending on their experience, your location and the complexity of the bankruptcy case. On average, the cost for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be between $500 to $4,000 depending on how complicated your case is. The simpler the bankruptcy filing, for example, if you have none or few assets and are not employed, the less expensive the bankruptcy filing would be.
A filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can cost you from $2,500 to $6,000, again the price depending on the complexity of the case. In most cases, this fee can be included in the bankruptcy repayment plan. Take into consideration that bankruptcy costs are regulated by bankruptcy law, and therefore under current laws, the lawyer is not allowed to charge you more than the court’s guideline fee.
In conclusion, an individual can file bankruptcy without necessarily needing to hire an attorney. Filing on your own is called doing it pro se. However, if you can afford it or don’t have time to do the research, it’s strongly recommended that you seek the guidance of a competent attorney, as bankruptcy can have long-term legal and financial outcomes. Call the Cain Law Office today for any questions