Can I File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy without an Attorney?

Legally, you can file your bankruptcy without using an attorney. But that doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea. Even an attorney takes years to learn the bankruptcy code and the nuances of the practice before he or she can be considered an expert. If it takes years for an attorney to learn the art of filing for bankruptcy, is it realistic to think that you can do it by yourself without making mistakes?

Filing your case as an absolute novice is extremely risky. One small error can be magnified into the loss of property or cash. For example, you may wind up having your car sold by the trustee and the money from the sale given to your creditors. Or you might have to empty your savings account as part of the bankruptcy, leaving you with only a few hundred dollars to your name.

Small mistakes or misjudgments about the bankruptcy code can also result in your case being dismissed altogether, which may affect your chance of ever filing bankruptcy on those debts again. The cost of an attorney is cheap in comparison to what you stand to lose by making even a small error when you file your case.

It’s not just attorneys who recommend against filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy on your own. The United States Bankruptcy Court strongly recommends not filing your own case. Here is what it has to say on the matter…

“While individuals can file a bankruptcy case without an attorney or “pro se,” it is extremely difficult to do it successfully.

 It is very important that a bankruptcy case be filed and handled correctly. The rules are very technical, and a misstep may affect a debtor’s rights. For example, a debtor whose case is dismissed for failure to file a required document, such as a credit counseling certificate, may lose the right to file another case or lose protections in a later case, including the benefit of the automatic stay. Bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal consequences – hiring a competent attorney is strongly recommended.