Filing for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney? What You Need to Know

When it comes to filing for bankruptcy, usually in the form of either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you will usually need to find an attorney. An attorney can help you with a myriad of the legal wrangling that you are unfamiliar with.

However, this is not to say that you can file for bankruptcy without the help of an attorney. In fact, many people opt out of the option for an attorney when filing for bankruptcy, which is referred to in the legal world as proceeding pro se. Although it is highly recommended that you seek the counsel of a qualified attorney, it is not necessary.

This brief article will serve to inform you about a few things you need to know when proceeding pro se, as well as a list of the benefits you will be missing out on by not attending to your bankruptcy proceedings without the aid of a qualified attorney.

Proceed Pro Se

When it comes to proceeding pro se, there is a wide array of knowledge that you should familiarize yourself with before you figuratively throw yourself to the wolves.

First and foremost, litigants proceeding pro se should make themselves well versed in the United States Bankruptcy Code, as well as the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. Both of these documents are available online, as the United States government makes them freely and readily available.

These documents will serve to inform you of the basics of bankruptcy law. Bear in mind that many qualified attorneys study these documents for years upon years in order to become familiar with their ins and outs, so don't expect to understand everything immediately.

Secondly, you should familiarize yourself with the rules of the local court in which the case is filed. Each contingent court has its own rules and regulations, and you should become familiar with what is allowed in the particular court in which your case is being held.

Generally speaking, you can visit your local court's website for a list of these rules, or speak with a representative at the court's intake counter. You may not, however, speak to a judge prior to the case about your case. Judges are prohibited from dispensing with legal advice.

Consult Non-attorney Petition Preparers

This is not to say that if you choose to proceed pro se, you will not receive any help whatsoever. In the event that you decide to fly solo, you may be offered the assistance of non-attorney petition preparers.

Non-attorney petition preparers are not, as the name rightly suggests, attorneys. Rather, they are clerks who understand the ins and outs of any forms you have to provide to the court prior to your case. As they are not attorneys, non-attorney petition preparers are excluded from giving you legal advice, explaining legal questions to you or assisting you in the courtroom in any way, shape or form whatsoever.

A non-attorney petition preparer must know what they're doing, however, and can be held culpable for any mistakes they make on your document. As such, a non-attorney petition preparer must print their own name, address, social security number and must offer up a signature in order for them to receive work. They one thing they cannot do, however, is sign documents on your behalf or receive commission for any court fees.

Remember, a non-attorney petition preparer is there simply to help you with documents and as you are proceeding pro se, you are not allowed to receive legal advice from any court employee.

Conducting your bankruptcy charges without the aid of a qualified bankruptcy attorney is far from recommended. However, it is perfectly legal and there are avenues from which you can receive help with your documentation. For more tips or assistance, visit resources like