Can You File A Bankruptcy Case Without A Lawyer?
Jason Wilson Aguilar
Chapter 13 Trustee | Seattle, WA
Yes, you can file a bankruptcy case without a lawyer. There is no legal requirement that you must have a lawyer represent you in a bankruptcy case. The real question is whether you should file a bankruptcy case without a lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy law. In my opinion, the answer to that question is no.
Would you perform surgery on yourself? That is a question one bankruptcy judge would ask people who came to bankruptcy court without a lawyer. The judge was making a point that you would want someone to assist you who knows what to do and will help you through the process.
When you are in financial difficulty and considering bankruptcy, you should talk to a lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy law. There are many reasons for that. First, you may or may not need to file a bankruptcy case at all. The lawyer can go over your financial situation to see if bankruptcy is your best option. Second, there are multiple types of bankruptcies. If you need to file bankruptcy, the lawyer will go over the available types of bankruptcy and recommend your best option.
Third, there can be unknown consequences when you file a bankruptcy case. For example, filing a particular type of bankruptcy case when you have unprotected assets such as a house or car could result in you losing those assets for payment to creditors. The lawyer can go over all the risks so that you know about them in advance and can be prepared.
Fourth, bankruptcy cases can be complicated. There is a lot of paperwork to complete, you must appear at a meeting with the person administering the case and issues could come up that require legal advice or even having to go to court. The lawyer is there to help you with these issues and guide you through the process.
Getting legal advice from a bankruptcy lawyer before you file a bankruptcy case is important. Bankruptcy lawyers do cost money, but you can contact more than one bankruptcy lawyer to discuss costs and to see if that lawyer is the right one for you before you hire them.
The choice whether to hire a lawyer is yours, of course. You can go it alone and hope for the best, but most people would want legal advice and help through the process so that they get the results they need.