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Can You File For Bankruptcy Without Engaging the Services Of A Lawyer?

Posted on 09, Sep, 2013

Obviously when you're arrived at the point where you have to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy you're very, very focused on spending as little money as you possibly can at that point in time. So you've no doubt asked yourself whether or not you actually need a lawyer to help you with the legal documentation and the filing itself - after all aren't lawyers just overpaid paper shufflers, and surely there's some kind of bankruptcy software package for consumers which would do all the hard work for you, right?  

To be fair thinking like this is to be expected simply because you're a human being and we're the masters of innovation and creativity - it's why we've survived for so long where other species have simply died out. What you might be surprised to hear is that you can legally handle your own bankruptcy filing and documentation if you want to, and doing this can actually keep your costs down to the bare minimum. That's great news isn't it?  

Well not quite, because the fact remains that although you can actually do something doesn't mean you should. You could, for example walk out the door and rob a bank tomorrow morning, but that's obviously a really bad idea. The self-filing for bankruptcy idea is akin to the "For Sale By Owner" craze that swept the country not too long ago. In fact they're remarkably similar because for some people the process worked flawlessly whereas for others it ruined them financially.  

All the information you need to file your own bankruptcy claim is freely available online, but following some eBook or self-help guide on bankruptcy can never, and will never, replace the guidance and intermediary capabilities which a highly-skilled bankruptcy attorney can put at your disposal. Even something as simple as deciding whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy would best suit your current financial situation could tie you up for days or weeks in procrastination, when a bankruptcy lawyer could help you make that decision during your first meeting.  

It's also worth remembering that filing for bankruptcy is something which is part of your life for the next several years, especially in the case of a Chapter 13 decision on your part. This means that although declaring bankruptcy might discharge some, or perhaps all, of your debt that still doesn't mean that process is a fait accompli once the filing is done. That's why it's so important that you make the right decision based on expert legal advice - the next 5+ years of your life could be a financial train wreck otherwise.  

The perceived cost of hiring a professional bankruptcy lawyer are dwarfed by the potential financial losses you could incur if you handle your bankruptcy filing yourself, using just some software and information you found online. Remember that anyone can publish anything they want online - there's nothing to stop them posting nonsense. A lawyer on the other hand is legally bound to provide you with reliable and correct information in relation to your bankruptcy filing, or they risk being disbarred otherwise.   

And just as a final reminder: Just because you can do something doesn't necessarily mean that you should. 

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