Filing for bankruptcy is a great way to get your finances in order. It can be difficult to navigate the bankruptcy process on your own, as bankruptcy involves legal issues. Although you can file the case yourself, experts recommend that you hire a bankruptcy attorney to help you. This article will help you decide if bankruptcy lawyers are necessary and what you can expect if you do hire one.

What Are The Different Types Of Bankruptcy?

Six types of bankruptcy are defined by the United States Bankruptcy Code. However, individuals often file for bankruptcy under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

Chapter 7, also known as liquidation bankruptcy or chapter 7, is a way to wipe out your debts. This chapter is for those who are unable to pay their monthly debt payments. A Chapter 7 case sees a court-appointed trustee liquidating your assets and distributing the proceeds to creditors. You may be exempt from some assets, such as your vehicle or household furniture. After Chapter 7 is completed, you are free from all debts.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is also known as a wage earner’s, or repayment plan. The court approves a plan that allows you to pay off your debts over a three-to-five-year period. Once these debts have been paid, you are no longer responsible. This type of bankruptcy can allow you to keep the property you might lose in Chapter 7, such as a house in foreclosure. You must pay all your mortgage payments in full during the Chapter 13 plan.

What Is A Bankruptcy Attorney?

A bankruptcy lawyer is a specialist in providing legal advice to clients about bankruptcy. They also prepare legal documents and represent the client in court. An attorney must have a law degree and be licensed to practice in their state.

A lawyer is your guide throughout the bankruptcy process. They can help you with matters like:

  • How to file for bankruptcy
  • What type of bankruptcy should I file?
  • How bankruptcy works
  • What court-provided forms must be filled out?
  • What types of debts are possible to reduce or eliminate?
  • How long you will be able to keep your car, home, and other property after the bankruptcy case is over

A bankruptcy lawyer can help you navigate the legal process. You could make costly legal errors if you try to handle your bankruptcy case on your own.

What To Expect From A Bankruptcy Attorney

Here are some things to look for if you choose to hire a bankruptcy attorney:

  • A written agreement between you and your lawyer. This agreement will probably include an overview of the work done by the lawyer.
  • This is a description of payment arrangements For instance, will the lawyer charge an hourly fee or a flat rate? What are the fees?
  • Continued discussions. We’ll discuss how your lawyer is handling your case.
  • A contract. You will agree on how often you receive updates from the lawyer about your case.
  • A complete list of documents. Your lawyer should give you a complete list.

Am I Able To Afford A Bankruptcy Lawyer?

You have the option of representing yourself in court. It depends on your circumstances whether it is the best option. You have a better chance of filing bankruptcy successfully if you hire a lawyer. The American Bankruptcy Institute’s 2018 study found that Chapter 7 pro-se filers are almost 10 times more likely to have their cases dismissed than those who have a lawyer representing them.

Depending on the type, filing for bankruptcy may stay on your credit report for up to seven years. It is important to hire a bankruptcy attorney. These are the reasons why you might need one.

  1. You are uncomfortable with handling bankruptcy cases on your own. A bankruptcy lawyer can help you.
  2. You are worried about paperwork. Court cases often involve many documents. It could be dangerous to submit paperwork late or incorrectly. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer will help you keep track of all paperwork, including credit card bills and other documents that you need to submit.
  3. Debt collectors are annoying you. A bankruptcy attorney can help. If you tell a collector that you are represented by a lawyer, they should communicate with you and not the collector.

You may be eligible for free legal services if you cannot afford to hire a bankruptcy attorney. For free legal assistance in your area, contact your state or local bar association.

How To File For Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer

You can file bankruptcy online without the help of a lawyer. Here’s how.


Before you do anything else, it is important to familiarize yourself first with the Bankruptcy Code as well as the federal rules regarding bankruptcy procedures. As a bankruptcy attorney, the federal court will expect you to comply with all bankruptcy rules and procedures. Not to be overlooked, the Bankruptcy Code, as well as federal rules, were written in language that is familiar to judges and lawyers but not to the average person.

Select The Type Of Bankruptcy You Wish To File

Next, choose the type of bankruptcy that you want to file. There are two main options for individuals: Chapter 7 (liquidation bankruptcy), and Chapter 13 (wage earner or repayment plan). The next step is to determine which bankruptcy court is appropriate for your bankruptcy filing. Bankruptcies are handled by 94 federal judicial districts across the nation.

You will need to take what is known as a “means test” if you want to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This test will determine if you are eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13. You will need to fill out the official forms in order to pass this test. Many of the forms require information about your income and expenses.

Get Credit Counseling

Remember that you must receive credit counseling from an approved provider in order to file for bankruptcy. This must be completed within 180 days of filing for bankruptcy. After you have completed the credit counseling session, you will receive a certificate which you need to submit with your bankruptcy filing.

Complete The Bankruptcy Forms

After you have decided on the type of bankruptcy you want to file, you will need to fill out an official form 101 (the Official Form). This is also known as a Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing For Bankruptcy. This 8-page form requires information such as your name and address. It also asks you for dollar estimates of your assets and liabilities (debts) and what type of debt you have.

If you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will need to submit additional forms. You must submit another set of documents within 14 days after filing. These forms ask for information such as a list of creditors, a listing of all your property, and a summary and breakdown of your income and expenses. You will also need to submit forms for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases.

A non-attorney petition preparation specialist (such as a paralegal), can help you to complete the bankruptcy paperwork. A petition preparer cannot provide legal advice or appear in court for your benefit. This means that you are still managing the case pro se.

Meet With Creditors

Once your bankruptcy case is approved by the court, you will typically work with a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee. The bankruptcy judge assigned to your case will usually be the only contact you have with you. The only formal proceeding that you are required to attend in most cases is a meeting of creditors called a 341 Meeting. Remember that you cannot get legal advice from a bankruptcy judge or court employees.

Do Not Wait For A Discharge Of Debts

The typical time it takes to file a Chapter 7 case is between four and six months from the moment you file bankruptcy to the day your debts are discharged. A Chapter 13 case can last up to five years, as you are getting rid of your debts via a repayment plan.

The Pros And Cons Of Filing For Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer

You can file for bankruptcy yourself and avoid having to pay a lawyer. There are some disadvantages to filing for bankruptcy on your own.

How To Find A Bankruptcy Attorney

You will want to choose a reputable and competent bankruptcy lawyer to represent your case. These are the top ways to find a reliable bankruptcy lawyer.

  • For recommendations, ask trusted friends, family members, or coworkers.
  • Visit the website of The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.
  • Get in touch with your local bar association.
  • Contact a lawyer referral service.

However they are identified, it is important to speak with at least two lawyers before you settle on one. You should ask about their bankruptcy experience and what fees they charge.

Bottom Line

It is a big decision to file for bankruptcy. A bankruptcy filing can remain on your credit report for up to seven years depending on the type. Consider whether you would prefer to work with a bankruptcy attorney or if you are more comfortable handling the matter yourself. No matter which route you choose, Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you get a fresh start with managing your money.

This post was written by Trey Wright, one of the best bankruptcy lawyers in Tallahassee! Trey is one of the founding partners of Bruner Wright, P.A. Attorneys at Law, which specializes in areas related to bankruptcy law, estate planning, and business litigation. Click here to learn more!

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