Do I Need a Lawyer?

As in any court, individuals have a right to represent themselves before the Bankruptcy Court. However, bankruptcy is a complex area and involves many considerations, including whether to file, the election of the appropriate chapter, use of exemptions, understanding all of the protections of the Bankruptcy Code and using them to the debtor's advantage. (A "debtor" is the legal term for a person who files a bankruptcy.) The right decision for you depends on an evaluation of many things, including your family status, your assets, your obligations, and other factors. It is a very serious step that could affect you for the rest of your life. It is possible in a bankruptcy that a debtor could lose all assets and still come out owing all of his or her debts. A lawyer can explain to you how the process works and can help you reach an intelligent decision.

Filing Without a Lawyer

Some debtors use non-lawyer document preparation services to prepare their bankruptcy petition. While this may initially cost less than hiring an attorney, these non-lawyer services by law cannot give any legal advice or represent you in Court. Most non-lawyer services are unfamiliar with any aspects of bankruptcy beyond merely filling in the blanks on the forms. Frequently, this is done with an "I was told this goes there" mentality, while having no idea of the meanings and ramifications behind each response. This lack of education and inexperience often leads to problems which would have been avoided. Non-lawyer services are not required to have any education and do not have any governing agency. If you have a problem with their services, there is no one to hear your complaint.

If you are contemplating bankruptcy and you are behind on your mortgage, then the need to be represented by an attorney is even greater. Certain complexities in the law make it extremely difficult for a debtor to successfully keep a home with a mortgage in arrears or foreclosure without the assistance of an attorney.

A corporation cannot represent itself in a bankruptcy case and must be represented by an attorney.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. If you need legal assistance with a bankruptcy, consult with a Bankruptcy Lawyer near you to discuss the details of your case.

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