Whether you file for bankruptcy with or without a lawyer, you can start your decision process by becoming more familiar with the different types of bankruptcies.
Do I need a lawyer to help me file for bankruptcy?
As it says in the instructions for official bankruptcy forms, “It is extremely difficult to succeed in a Chapter 11, 12, or 13 case without an attorney.” Reorganization cases are hard to get off the ground and require years of maintenance. For instance, a Chapter 7 case lasts about three months. But if it gets confirmed (successfully approved by the bankruptcy judge), a Chapter 13 case can last as long as five years.
The instructions to the official forms for individual debtors say it well. “Completing the forms is only a part of the bankruptcy process. You are strongly encouraged to hire a qualified attorney not only to help you complete the forms but also to give you general advice about bankruptcy and to represent you in your bankruptcy case. If you cannot afford to pay a lawyer, you might qualify for free legal services if they are provided in your area. Contact your state or local bar association for help in obtaining free legal services or in hiring an attorney.”
Can I file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy without a lawyer?
Even a simple Chapter 7 liquidation case can be risky if the debtor does not know how to properly claim basic assets as exempt. There are Texas exemption laws and federal exemption laws. Knowing which set of laws to choose (you must pick one or the other) and exempting each type of asset under the proper statute could mean the difference between keeping an asset and having it sold off (liquidated) by the Chapter 7 trustee to pay your creditors.
Can I file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy without a lawyer?
Again, like the instructions for the official bankruptcy forms say, “It is extremely difficult to succeed in a Chapter 11, 12, or 13 case without an attorney.” Reorganization cases are hard to get off the ground and require years of maintenance. For instance, a Chapter 13 case can last as long as five years, if it gets confirmed (successfully approved by the bankruptcy judge).
How do I file a bankruptcy case by myself?
If you choose, despite the warnings above, to file a bankruptcy case without a lawyer, which is called filing the case pro se, a good place to start this task is Filing Without an Attorney.
The official forms to file a bankruptcy case are at Bankruptcy Forms.
The bankruptcy court has recently overhauled the forms to make them easier to understand, and the instructions for new forms may be helpful.
To help you make a decision about which Chapter to file your case under (Chapter 7, 11, 12, or 13), you can watch these videos: Bankruptcy Basics.
This article contains a general overview of bankruptcy.
This article explains your other options if you are considering filing for bankruptcy.
This article explains what can and cannot be done through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
This article explains Chapter 7 bankruptcy basics.
This article tells you what a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is and what it can and cannot do.
This article explains Chapter 13 Bankruptcy basics.