When your debt seems out of control, you're probably willing to do anything to save some money. This may include trying to file bankruptcy without a lawyer. Because bankruptcy laws are so complicated, knowing when to hire a lawyer is important.
The last thing you want when you file bankruptcy is to have your case dismissed because you forget to file paperwork or forget to include something on your list of property. Making a mistake can also affect your rights to file another case or be protected under the automatic stay policy. Hiring an attorney can help you avoid these problems.
Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy without a Lawyer
In some cases, you can file chapter 7 bankruptcy without a lawyer. As a general rule, you can do this if you meet the following criteria:
- Your income is below the state median
- You own very little property that could be liquidated
- You don't have any priority debts such as alimony, child support or income taxes
- Your creditors aren't likely to allege fraud against you
If you meet these criteria, and you feel comfortable doing research and filing the paperwork, then you might consider filing without a lawyer. However, if any of this makes you uncomfortable, you should look into free clinics or hiring a pro bono attorney. You should definitely consider hiring an attorney if your chapter 7 bankruptcy is more complicated.
Filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy without a Lawyer
Because chapter 13 bankruptcy is much more complicated than chapter 7 bankruptcy, it's usually not a good idea to file without a lawyer. There are even some lawyers who only specialize in chapter 7 bankruptcy, so it's important to make sure you use the right attorney. Your chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer will help you with matters such as:
- Cramming down a car loan
- Getting rid of a second mortgage
- Designing a repayment plan
One good thing about hiring a chapter 13 lawyer is that you can often pay all or part of the attorney fees through your repayment plan. This means you won't have to come up with all of the money up front. Most courts also have fee guidelines, which you can generally find online.
Rebuilding Your Credit after Filing Bankruptcy
Contrary to popular belief, rebuilding your credit after filing bankruptcy is not difficult. One of the easiest ways to rebuild your credit is through a bankruptcy auto loan. To get started today, fill out our fast and free application, to see how much you could borrow and get back on the road to financial success.
Remember we are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice. The situations discussed are only our experiences over the years and may vary with each customer.