Can I file bankruptcy without an attorney? 44 Answers as of May 30, 2013

I am considering bankruptcy, but don't have the cash to hire a lawyer. Can I file by myself?

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Mercado & Hartung, PLLC
Mercado & Hartung, PLLC | Christopher J. Mercado
Yes, an attorney is not required but recommended.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 1/18/2012
Heupel Law
Heupel Law | Kevin Heupel
Yes, you can, but good luck. Remember, bankruptcy is federal law governed by legal rules and procedures. You'll find using an attorney will get you a better result.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 12/21/2011
Mazyar Hedayat and Associates
Mazyar Hedayat and Associates | Mazyar Malek Hedayat
Yes, you can file bankruptcy without an Attorney. See the Bankruptcy Court's website for more information on filing pro se.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 12/19/2011
Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis
Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis | Eric Lewis
It is not advisable to try to file bankruptcy without a lawyer. It is very technical and easy to lose money and property if you don't know what you are doing. Generally, most people can afford a lawyer with cutting back on spending and saving money over time.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 12/19/2011
Law Office of Asaph Abrams
Law Office of Asaph Abrams | Asaph Abrams
Recognize the answerer's bias, yet the most seasoned auto-didact may steer off a cliff with resulting irreversible injury (not the reversible Wile E. Coyote-type, alas). Bankruptcy is a highly specialized field that shouldn't be tackled by pro pers or non-bankruptcy attorneys. Even attorneys fallen on hard times wouldn't reasonably file on their own behalves and go at it alone, no more than a person (save Rambo, perhaps) would cut his own skin to extract a bullet. This answer (as well as our Web site) doesn't address all facts & implications of the question; it's general info, not legal advice to be relied upon; it creates no attorney-client relationship; it may be pertinent to CA only; it's independent of other answers.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/16/2011
    J.M. Cook, P.A. | J.M. Cook
    Yes, but it is ill advised. Most attys will give you some time to pay before filing or you could file a Chapter 13 and pay the bulk of the fees through the plan.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
    You are eligible to file bankruptcy without an attorney. However, it is wise to consult an attorney as to whether your paperwork is in order prior to filing the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Ross Smith, Attorney at Law
    Ross Smith, Attorney at Law | Charles Ross Smith III
    About 9% of all bankruptcy filings are without attorneys. About 100% of those people are miserable, frustrated and filled with anger at a court system that would really like to help them, but simply can't. It is your right as a citizen to use our court system. It is just a really bad idea to do that without an attorney. A Court that judges your case can not also act as your lawyer. That's just common sense. Most pro se petitioners are simply dismissed without getting any relief. They do not get their $306.00 filing fee back. If you truly have no assets, then you do not need a bankruptcy. You have nothing to lose. If you do have assets, you must protect them wisely from your creditors, who cheerfully would strip you naked and leave your family with nothing to eat and no place to live. Sell something, borrow, do what you have to do. Attorneys are worth their hire. That is why we exist. We save assets and help make your life better. And yes, we do it for the money. I have seen the line of pro se (without attorney) bankruptcy petitioners lining up for help at the clerk's window in Cleveland, OH. Their stories are all pitiful. The clerk tries hard to help each person, but she is not allowed to practice law. She can only hand out forms and tell people what the fees are. And she hardly knows where to start when a person asks, "How do I file a bankruptcy?" The clerk is very patient, but not one single person is in that long line had the faintest idea what she was talking about. If someone put a gun to my head and and forced me to file a bankruptcy without an attorney, I would buy this book, The Attorney's Handbook on Consumer Bankruptcy and Chapter 13 by Harvey J. Williamson, 35th Edition. Do not buy an old edition. Used Is OK. It's on Amazon. This is a cheap book but excellent. It has samples of filled out forms. It costs less than $40.00. If you are too broke to buy this book, you are too broke for bankruptcy. Don't leave home without it. No, I don't work for them. But I buy this book religiously every year. It is dirt simple or as simple as bankruptcy ever gets anyway. After you read it, you will probably decide that you were crazy to think you could ever file without an attorney. It you have read this far and decided to buy the book, good for you. You may have a chance. If you have not made it this far, I still wish you good luck on what will surely be a difficult journey.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Athena Legal, LLC | Athena Inembolidis
    Yes, you can file without an attorney but if it doesn't go well it will cost much more to "fix" it. You pay for the skill and knowledge an attorney has to maximize the benefit of a bankruptcy as well as minimize the harm. Most attorneys offer payment plans to make it more affordable.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Lakelaw - Loop Bankruptcy
    Lakelaw - Loop Bankruptcy | David Leibowitz
    You can file a bankruptcy without an attorney. You can also change your brakes without a mechanic. Neither is a particularly good idea.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    The Law Offices of Katie M. Stone
    The Law Offices of Katie M. Stone | Katie M. Stone
    Yes, you can file a bankruptcy without an attorney. I do caution you that bankruptcy is a very complex area of law and it is helpful to have the guidance of an attorney so that you do not jeopardize your situation or your discharge. The bankruptcy petition is extremely lengthy and detailed. If you do not understand the forms, you risk filling them out incorrectly. Most bankruptcy attorneys offer a free initial consultation. You may want to speak with one just to make sure bankruptcy is the right thing for you to do and so that you have a better understanding of how it works. I hope you found this answer useful.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Steven Harrell, Attorney at Law | Waymon Steven Harrell
    You would be ill advised to file either a Chapter 7 case or a Chapter 13 case without a lawyer. There are too many forms to complete, and they must be completed correctly. The forms are too lengthy, and they contain so much information, that only a trained attorney should complete them. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court has many procedural rules that would confound a layman or even an attorney that has not regularly practiced before that court. If you file a Chapter 13 case that is subsequently dismissed, that can also carry serious legal consequences for you if you refile a case less than a year later. I would not advise any person to file their own bankruptcy petition without an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Law Office of Simon Goldenberg, PLLC
    Law Office of Simon Goldenberg, PLLC | Simon Goldenberg
    The simple answer is yes, you can file for bankruptcy without retaining a lawyer. You should be able to obtain the court forms from the District Court website in your jurisdiction. There are paralegal services that can assist you in completing the forms. However, it is often prudent to retain an experienced bankruptcy attorney to assist you as the process can be confusing and risky if not done properly. It is important to understand the rules, exemptions, and the various deadlines in order to avoid potential pitfalls. Retaining an attorney can provide much needed peace-of-mind. *Disclaimer:* This message is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice. An attorney/client relationship is not formed by the contents of this message. Always seek the advice of local legal counsel when contemplating legal decisions. My license to practice law is limited to the states of New York and New Jersey.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Jakob-Barnes Law Firm, LLC
    Jakob-Barnes Law Firm, LLC | Jennifer Jakob-Barnes
    You are allowed to represent yourself in a bankruptcy. I would suggest hiring an attorney. When you represent yourself, you are expected to know the law and the procedure of the bankruptcy. If you make mistakes, you could end up spending more money fixing them.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
    You can file "pro se" bankruptcy (without attorney). Go to the website of your local bankruptcy court and they will have the documents you will have to complete to file on your own. However, a large percentage of pro se filers do not get their discharge and lose unexempt items because they are not familiar with the bankruptcy rules. Be careful.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson
    Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson | Lynnmarie Johnson
    You can, but I would not advise it. Most attorneys will work with you on payments and it is very easy to make a mistake and get yourself in trouble in court. Doing the wrong thing can end up with you getting a fine or being imprisoned or both.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Albert Law Group
    Albert Law Group | Alvin S. Albert
    You have the right to file pro se (without an attorney), but please keep in mind that the bankruptcy court will not provide legal advice/direction. This means if you experienceobjections from some of your creditors, then you may have to appear in bankruptcy court against experienced creditors' attorneys. Best Wishes.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Anthony Saunders Esq., PLLC | Anthony M. Saunders
    The answer is yes you can. However, there are many different areas of the bankruptcy laws that you will have to familiarize yourself with first. These areas can hurt your chances of having a discharge of your debt and if not followed correctly could lead to criminal charges for filing a petition with false information. While I recommend you hire an attorney, it is possible to file a bankruptcy without an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    While legally you can, don't. Pro se bankruptcies tend to be disasters. Fixing the disaster may cost you more than anything you save, if you can fix things at all. If you have to, save until you can afford counsel. Unless you know what every one of the following things is and how to deal with it, do not attempt a pro se case: computing whether you pass the means test, negotiating a reaffirmation, responding to a motion to lift stay, how to avoid judicial liens in your case, how to maximize your exemptions, answering a complaint as to dischargeability, and responding to a bad faith claim, etc.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    You can. You should also know that I have answered many, many questions from persons who filed their own bankruptcy and had the trustee sell their property. It is not just a matter of filling out forms.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Moore Taylor Law Firm, P.A.
    Moore Taylor Law Firm, P.A. | Jane Downey
    Yes but I would not recommend you do it.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr.
    Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr. | John F. Geraghty, Jr.
    You would be ill advised to attempt to represent yourself especially if you have assets to protect.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Law Office of Harry L Styron
    Law Office of Harry L Styron | Harry L Styron
    Yes you can.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/30/2013
    Carballo Law Offices
    Carballo Law Offices | Tony E. Carballo
    You can file without a lawyer but at least you should first talk to a lawyer about it. You need to know if you qualify and the risks involved before actually filing without a lawyer because you do not have the right to dismiss a Chapter 7 case without court permission if you make a mistake. If you have any assets that can be taken from you then the trustee might oppose any attempt to dismiss the case. It is not advisable to file without a lawyer. There are books you can buy and read to learn how to do it without a lawyer or even determine if you should do it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    The Stockman Law Office | Mary Stockman Esq.
    You may file without an attorney, however it will take a great deal of preparation and education to be certain you are not causing yourself additional problems in the future.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Charles Schneider, P.C.
    Charles Schneider, P.C. | Charles J. Schneider
    If your inclined to risk your own malpractice. Yes. However I have even filed bankruptcy for other attorneys.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Guardian Law Group PLLC
    Guardian Law Group PLLC | C. David Hester
    Yes but it is very difficult and will probably have problems. Visit the website in your Federal District and obtain a copy of the unrepresented packet.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Goldfarb Law Office, PA
    Goldfarb Law Office, PA | Stephen Goldfarb
    There is no requirement to have an attorney to file bankruptcy. Some help is available on the Bankruptcy Court Website.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    West Themis Law, A Professional Law Corporation
    West Themis Law, A Professional Law Corporation | Sally S. Chan, Esq.
    Unless you have to file now to hold off a foreclosure to save your home or some other emergency, save some money and get a good experienced attorney. A bad one or doing it yourself can expose you to serious problems including fraud and criminal liability. Bankruptcy is not an easy area of law.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/15/2011
    Weber Law Firm, P.C.
    Weber Law Firm, P.C. | William Weber
    Yes. You can also perform minor surgery on yourself without the help of a surgeon. But neither course of action is prudent.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/14/2011
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    You do not have to file your case with an attorney. It is recommended that you have an attorney or at least seek legal advice but you are not required to have an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/14/2011
    Law Office of Felipe A. Malo, P.A.
    Law Office of Felipe A. Malo, P.A. | Felipe Augusto Malo
    Yes you can go to the bankruptcy court website and will find everything you need.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/29/2012
    Sanders Law, P.A. | Andre Keith Sanders
    Yes, but unless you have knowledge of the system, it is generally not advised to file yourself. If you do not properly file everything, you could risk dismissal of your case or potentially not correctly value your assets and leave yourself open to paying money to settle the case with the assigned trustee.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/14/2011
    Foster Law Group
    Foster Law Group | William Foster
    Yes, you can file bankruptcy without an attorney but I would not recommend it. Most pro se filing are dismissed and if they are not dismissed the often end up costing the debtor more money than if he/she hired an attorney in the first place.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/14/2011
    Dan Wilson Bankruptcy
    Dan Wilson Bankruptcy | Dan Wilson
    You can, but its not a good idea. You risk not protecting assets not getting full discharge, even dismissal. Its just too complicated.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/14/2011
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