Can I file for bankruptcy without a lawyer?

Yes. A debtor who files the papers and represents himself or herself without the help of an attorney is known as a pro se debtor. Bankruptcy attorneys are required to inform potential clients that they can file a case without attorney. Although there is no law preventing it, filing pro se is a risky choice.

Bankruptcy is a very complicated area of law. It can be confusing even to attorneys who don’t regularly practice bankruptcy law. You can hire a petition preparer, but preparers cannot give legal advice. A petition preparer can simply help you fill out the papers. Take a look at THIS DOCUMENT to see how limited their services are. If you do not understand all the nuances of the law, you may put your assets at risk or lose the opportunity to discharge your debts.

I have seen many pro se debtors at Meetings of Creditors. A few handled their cases well and they got through the meeting with no problems. The vast majority had their meetings continued to another date because they failed to file something, failed to submit required documents to the trustee, or completed the petition and schedules incorrectly.

I suggest you consult with a bankruptcy attorney before making any decisions. If you are intent on filing pro se, be sure to visit THIS PAGE (Western District of Wisconsin) or THIS PAGE (U.S. Courts website) and gather as much information as possible. Please also check out THIS POST I wrote about pro se debtors on South Carolina bankruptcy attorney Russ DeMott’s blog.

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One Comment

  1. I think this is some of the best advice a person could get. I too have seen pro se debtors struggling and getting into trouble. A man who represents himself truly has a fool for a client.

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