While you can file for bankruptcy without a lawyer, we definitely would never recommend doing so. Bankruptcy is a complex legal proceeding in federal court, governed by thousands of pages of both federal and state statutes and corresponding case law. A bankruptcy attorney will be able to navigate these laws and know how each one will apply to your unique set of facts. In a bankruptcy proceeding, important assets such as your house, car or tax refunds can be at stake, and there are ways a person without legal training may inadvertently cause himself or herself to lose these assets, which might have otherwise been saved had the case been handled by an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Additionally, if a person does not have an intricate knowledge of the laws, they might be forced to pay debts an attorney could have gotten discharged.
As the saying goes, "you don't know what you don't know". I have seen far too many cases where as I am listening to the Debtor talk with the Trustee, I find myself saying to myself, if they had just hired an attorney it would have saved them so much money. This is because their lack of exemption laws or dischargeability of debts ended up costing them far more in the turnover of unexempted assets or the need to repay non-discharged debts that would have resulted differently had they just known what a bankruptcy attorney would have known when their case was filed.
Furthermore, bankruptcy proceedings involve attorneys at all ends. Your creditors will most likely be represented by experienced attorneys, the United States Trustee is an attorney, and the judge will be an attorney. Hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney puts you on a level playing field. Creditors recognizing that you are filing without an attorney may try to take advantage of you and they may not deal with you with the same level of collegiality as they would if you were represented by an attorney.
But often times I hear, but if I am in financially tough times, how can I afford to pay an attorney to help me with my bankruptcy. The good news is that here at Ronke Law we offer options with no money down that allow you to file your case right away and then make payments after the case is filed. For more information on our payment options or any other information on filing bankruptcy, please feel free to reach out to us to schedule a free consultation. You can schedule online through our website or you can call our office at (605) 370-5088.