Is it possible to file for bankruptcy without a lawyer? 28 Answers as of July 11, 2013

I am considering filing for bankruptcy, but I have heard that I need a lawyer to go through the process. What are the benefits of having a lawyer and how much extra would it cost me to hire one?

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Rosenberg & Press
Rosenberg & Press | Max L. Rosenberg
I have answered this question before and often. Filing bankruptcy without a lawyer is possible, just like performing brain surgery without a brain surgeon is possible. It is however highly inadvisable. It would be like attempting to fix your transmission without a mechanic or any mechanical training. Coincidentally, the two procedures probably are comparably priced. The benefits of having an attorney are numerous: 1) An experienced bankruptcy attorney knows the exemption statutes and how to apply them to protect all your assets and belongings, 2) They will navigate you through removing liens off of your residence or advising you on the possibilities of foreclosure, modification, forbearance, and various other plans that may apply 3) They will prep you for your 341 hearing with the Trustee and attend it with you. 4)They can work with the trustee through any surprises or problems that arise. 5) they can assist you in rebuilding your credit.6) They can properly apply exemptions and other procedures to the Chapter 7 Means Test to determine if you are eligible to file. 8) They know the proper procedure and documents to file... actually, I could write this list all night. More importantly, having the representation of a bankruptcy attorney is necessary for all the reasons that are unforeseen and cannot be thought of here. Finally, the amount of debt that a person ready to file usually has dwarfs the price of a good bankruptcy attorney and if it does not, perhaps you should reconsider filing. We are happy to assist further is decisions or opinions on matters such as these. Please feel free to contact us. Thanks for tuning in!
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 6/23/2011
Mercado & Hartung, PLLC
Mercado & Hartung, PLLC | Christopher J. Mercado
It is recommended but not required to file BK using an Attorney. The benefits are you get someone who knows how to protect exempt assets, common issues when filing out the petition and the Attorney will electronically file everything for you. Attorneys charge various amounts, you should contact a local attorney in your jurisdiction.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 6/22/2011
Financial Relief Law Center
Financial Relief Law Center | Mark Alonso
You can file bankruptcy without a lawyer however it is helpful to have a bankruptcy attorney guide you through the process. You may save from $500 to several thousand dollars depending on the kind of bankruptcy you are filing.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/21/2011
The Law Office of Mark J. Markus
The Law Office of Mark J. Markus | Mark Markus
The benefits are having your case done correctly the first time and avoiding mistakes that can lead to you losing your assets, losing your discharge or other problems which will cost you thousands of dollars to fix later, if it's even possible then. Attorneys fees vary depending on a number of factors, including what chapter you're filing, the quality and experience of the attorney, where you live, etc. etc. etc. Most attorneys offer free initial consultations where you can get a fee quote.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/21/2011
Burnham & Associates
Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will cost you around $1,500 in attorney's fees. A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy will cost you around $2,500 in attorney's fees. The benefits of having an attorney are incalculable. People who file without an attorney run the risk of missing documents, filing forms that will hurt their legal rights when it is not necessary, and even the dismissal of the case without a discharge of the debts. Please speak with a Bankruptcy Attorney.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Replied: 6/20/2011
    Breckenridge and Walton
    Breckenridge and Walton | Alan D. Walton
    It is possible but unwise. As far as cost, no one can tell you until you provide information. It is like you are asking - How much are a set of tires for my vehicle? Until we know if you are driving a Huffy, Harley, Hummer, or 18 wheeler, we really can't say. The benefits of having an experienced attorney far outweigh the cost. And I charge more if you come to me after you try it yourself and want me to undo your mistakes and then do it right. It is all a matter of the amount of time your particular circumstances require.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Law Offices of Michael T. Krueger
    Law Offices of Michael T. Krueger | Michael Krueger
    It is possible to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy without an attorney, but a chapter 13 bankruptcy is very complex and you may end up paying more over through your payment plan than you would just to hire an attorney. If you have zero assets and do not need to utilize exemptions to protect assets you may be able to file on your own successfully. I receive calls on a weekly basis from individuals that tried to file on their own and their case was either dismissed or the trustee informed the debtor to refile with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    You can shop around on the price. Not all cases are the same, and I have seen the mistakes people have made by trying to do it on their own. My basic fee for a consumer Chapter 7 is $900.00 plus the court fee of $299.00.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Daniel Hoarfrost, Attorney at Law
    Daniel Hoarfrost, Attorney at Law | Daniel Hoarfrost
    You are allowed to file without a lawyer, but then you have no guarantee it will be done right. Barring complicating factors, my retainer for a typical consumer Ch 7 is $1,554.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis | Eric Lewis
    Bankruptcy is extremely technical and can be complex. If you don't know what you're doing, it is easy to lose property, money and the like. The cost depends on where you live and the market in your area, but typically a straight chapter 7 for an individual with few assets is going to run between $1,000 and $2,000 again, depending on where you live and the market of bankruptcy attorneys available to you.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    CONSUMER PROTECTION ASSISTANCE COALITION, INC. (DE).
    CONSUMER PROTECTION ASSISTANCE COALITION, INC. (DE). | Gary Lee Lane
    You may file on your own, but using a lawyer is far safer. It prevents omitting claims and other issues.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    The Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin
    The Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin | Jared B. Gaynor
    You have the right to file a legal proceeding on your own. In my view, it's not advisable for bankruptcy. There are many issues, but the biggest is this - when you file a bankruptcy, all of your possessions become the property of the trustee (at least for a time) - but if you mess up your paperwork and do not protect your assets appropriately, you jeopardize losing a good deal of it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Law Office of Asaph Abrams
    Law Office of Asaph Abrams | Asaph Abrams
    You could insofar as you could remove a bullet on your own (or at least Rambo can). It can be mighty painful.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Law Offices of Joseph A. Mannis
    Law Offices of Joseph A. Mannis | Todd Mannis
    It is possible to do it without an attorney, just as it is possible for you to be your own physician or do your own dental work. What are the benefits? It its done wrong, you could do something really bad (like lose assets) or just mildly bad (have to refile things to correct them, costing you time and money). If you have an attorney, its done right, period. As far as attorney fees, see what seems to be the standard rate in your area.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/20/2011
    Lakelaw - Loop Bankruptcy
    Lakelaw - Loop Bankruptcy | David Leibowitz
    It is possible to file bankruptcy without a lawyer, just as it is possible for you to fix your car without a mechanic. However, neither might be a very good idea. The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer is not much different than the cost of a mechanic for a transmission job on a vehicle.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Symmes Law Group, PLLC
    Symmes Law Group, PLLC | Richard James Symmes
    You may file bankruptcy without a lawyer, however it is not advisable. A lawyer can make sure things go smoothly and that all of your assets will be protected. Contact local attorneys or your local bar association to learn about attorney fees.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Bird & VanDyke, Inc.
    Bird & VanDyke, Inc. | David VanDyke
    Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding which involves court and the filing of a 60 page legal document. The process can be difficult and has many pitfalls. I charge different amounts depending on difficulty. Call for a free consult. I promise it will be worth it. You have no idea how many times I have seen people lose valuable assets because they wanted to save a few bucks. Once you file your case and realize you need help most attorneys, including me. Won't touch it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    The Law Office of Brian Nomi
    The Law Office of Brian Nomi | Brian H. Nomi
    Yes, it's possible. It's very hard, but it could be done, and is done. If money is your only concern, that is one way to do it. If you want it done right, it's best to work with someone who knows the system and how to help you the best. For further information, its best to consult with an experienced attorney. Any good attorney will give you a free initial consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Ursula G. Barrios Law
    Ursula G. Barrios Law | Guillermo Machado
    Yes but better with a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley | Maureen O'Malley
    It is foolhardy to file without an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. I always see people who represent themselves or those being represented by lawyers who don't regularly file bankruptcy and they needlessly lose property, or have to return after sending proper documents, or having their case dismissed. There are many things that can go wrong. A lawyer can take the stress away right away and can ensure all the details are handled correctly. Fees vary, but compare them to the debt you'll eliminate and the peace of mind you'll gain.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Jackson White, PC
    Jackson White, PC | Spencer Hale
    You don't need to hire an attorney, but I would highly recommend doing so. The benefit of hiring an attorney is that the attorney knows what to do. The cost of the attorney depends on how good the attorney island how much attention the attorney will give to your case.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    Yes, you can file without an attorney, but you won't benefit from the significant benefits of having an attorney assist you. Rates for attorneys vary. If you are in my area, please contact me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
    The more property you own the more likely it is that you will want and need a lawyer. However, consult the Nolo Press publications for self-help.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    The cost depends on where you live.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/11/2013
    Carballo Law Offices
    Carballo Law Offices | Tony E. Carballo
    It is certainly possible to file without a lawyer and you have the right to represent yourself, just like you have the right to jump off a bridge, but neither is advisable. Go to the bankruptcy court's website and you will find that the judges advise people not to file "pro se" (without a lawyer). The benefits of having a lawyer is to have someone do it properly and actually save you money (or keep you from losing money and property) and save you the headache and frustration of the process plus having someone to take care of you when things go wrong (which could happen even when a lawyer is involved). You need to consult with bankruptcy attorneys in your area to find out what it would cost you to have legal representation. Select a lawyer carefully and not just based on the fees. Hiring a lawyer is not like buying the identical bike at either Walmart or Target, whichever is cheaper. Legal representation is a service and the quality of the service differs from lawyer to lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    The benefit of hiring a lawyer is that your case will be far more likely to succeed. Pro se cases have a huge failure rate. Even if they don't fail, you could lose some assets or money you might have kept, or not eliminate a lien or claim that could have been eliminated. Unless you can tell me that you can prepare the papers, handle hearings, file motions, defend motions, deal with audits and Trustee information requests, and handle creditor negotiations, you are not equipped to file pro se. As for costs, it depends on who you hire. But you need counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Benson Law Firm
    Benson Law Firm | David Benson
    In a Chapter 7, improper use of exemptions could mean the loss of personal assets. In a Chapter 13, your case has very little chance of succeeding at all.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/17/2011
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