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How To Claim Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer

What Happens When You File For Bankruptcy

How To File Bankruptcy Without a Lawyer in 2020

If bankruptcy is the option you choose, you will work with the LIT to complete the required forms. The LIT will then file these documents with the OSB and you will be formally declared bankrupt.

From that point on, the LIT will deal directly with your creditors on your behalf. Once you have been declared bankrupt

  • you will stop making payments directly to your unsecured creditors
  • any garnishments against your salary will stop; and
  • any lawsuits against you by your creditors will also be stopped

What Are The Risks Of Filing For Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer

Do you know what form of bankruptcy will benefit you the most? You can read about the differences, but you may not be able to tell which will actually help you resolve your issues in the best way. Individuals file for either Chapter 7, Chapter 13, Chapter 11, or Chapter 12.

  • If you do file pro se, the law prohibits the people who process your bankruptcy from providing you with legal advice.
  • If you make a mistake, it can have serious consequences. An incorrect or incomplete filing could mean that your effort to discharge your debt just costs more money.
  • If you file for the wrong kind of bankruptcy, you could lose your home or other important personal property. A North Carolina bankruptcy lawyer would evaluate your financial situation and advise you which chapter most aligns with your goals and priorities.
  • Courts will still expect you to file your petition correctly. You may find it difficult to interpret the rules and regulations you have to work within.

In fact, a good lawyer will likely save you money by protecting you from costly/avoidable mistakes. Theyll also make sure that youve considered all of your options, including not filing at all.

How A Bankruptcy Lawyer Can Help

Our advice is to avoid the risks of pro se filing and seek the proper legal services. After you choose a bankruptcy attorney, they help you through the filing process. An attorney can help you:

  • Understand which debts can be discharged and which cant.
  • Accurately fill out your bankruptcy forms.
  • Know what tax consequences to expect.
  • Understand which assets you can keep.

This is just a small sample of what a bankruptcy attorney can do for you. Filing without a lawyer is possible, but requires so much work on your part and leaves plenty of room for error. Letting your lawyer provide legal advice and handle the difficult stuff also gives you more time and energy to repair your credit score.

Need help starting the filing process? Were here so you can get the fresh start you need.

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Here Are Some Of The Most Common Difficulties Weve Observed When Filing Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer:

  • Choosing the wrong kind of bankruptcy. Individuals can choose between Chapter 7, Chapter 13, Chapter 11, and Chapter 12 bankruptcy. Businesses that are registered entities can file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 11. If you choose the wrong kind, your creditors may be able to confiscate property that you would have been able to keep if you had made a better choice.
  • Making an error in claiming your exemptions. You can exempt certain kinds of property from liquidation, but you have to list them correctly. If you dont, the asset is subject to liquidation.
  • Defending yourself in court. Parties to the case such as creditors, the trustee, and the Bankruptcy Administrator can seek dismissal of the case or oppose discharge or oppose dischargability of a particular debt. This requires a hearing before the federal bankruptcy judge. Representing yourself in front of the bankruptcy judge may be challenging and stressful.

Your Creditors May Hold A Meeting


Sometimes, a meeting of creditors is required or requested. The purpose of this meeting is to

  • allow creditors to obtain information about the bankruptcy;
  • confirm the appointment of the LIT;
  • appoint up to five inspectors to supervise the administration of your estate; and
  • allow creditors to give direction to the LIT.

If a meeting is called, you will be required to attend.

Read Also: What Does Declaring Bankruptcy Do For You

Alberta Bankruptcy Pros And Cons

Before filing for bankruptcy, you should be aware of the major pros and cons associated with this debt solution. The most obvious advantage is that most of your debts are eliminated in bankruptcy. Alberta residents also enjoy peace after a bankruptcy is discharged because debt collectors can no longer hound you for debts written off in the bankruptcy process.

On the other hand, a significant drawback to personal bankruptcy is that it negatively impacts your credit for around 7 years . In fact, you will find it difficult to get new loans and other extensions of credit during those seven years if you file for bankruptcy. A bankruptcy will also leave you with very few personal belongings. For example, a bankruptcy only allows you to keep clothing and other basic items beyond the bare essentials if such things are necessary for employment. You will also have to surrender your car if it is worth more than $5,000. Other exemptions apply. Finally, filing for bankruptcy in Alberta does not eliminate all of your debt. You will still have to pay alimony, your mortgage and student loans if it has been less than seven years since you attended classes.

Filling Out Bankruptcy Paperwork

Even if the debtor chooses the correct chapter, pitfalls abound in the paperwork phase of bankruptcy.

  • Failing to file required documents. Bankruptcy is form-driven. You’ll have to complete a lengthy federal packet, and, in some cases, your court will have local forms, as well. Many self-represented bankruptcy debtors don’t file all of the required bankruptcy documents, which, if not remedied, will result in a dismissal of the case. You can find information on the forms you’ll need, filing fees, and more in our Filing for Bankruptcy: Getting Started section.
  • Failing to protect property.You don’t lose everything in bankruptcy. Property exemptions play a vital role in protecting property in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. But, many pro se filers don’t list the proper exemption to keep an item of property, and, as a result, risk losing it. If you stand to lose valuable property or property you care about , a visit to an attorney might be well worth the money.
  • Failing to take required education courses. In Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers must receive from an approved provider before filing for bankruptcy, and complete a financial management course before getting a discharge. Many pro se debtors, confused about these requirements, fail to file the proper certificate, which can result in a dismissal of the case.

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Ask Family Or Friends For Help

It’s hard to ask for help. You might feel uncomfortable telling your loved ones why you need the money. Many people find that when they ask for help, they have more resources than they ever thought.

Your attorney will need to know where the money came from because this must be disclosed in your bankruptcy paperwork. If its a loan, that person will need to be listed as a creditor. The loan will be discharged in the case, but that doesnt mean that you cant pay it back. If its a gift, it may have to be listed as income. Your attorney can advise you on this.

How To File Bankruptcy In 2021 For Free: A 10

File for Bankruptcy Without a Lawyer

Upsolve is a nonprofit tool that helps you file bankruptcy for free. Think TurboTax for bankruptcy. Get free education, customer support, and community. Featured in Forbes 4x and funded by institutions like Harvard University so we’ll never ask you for a credit card. Explore our free tool

In a Nutshell

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an important debt relief tool for Americans in severe financial distress from losing a job, getting injured, or getting divorced. Upsolve walks you through the steps on how to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and get your fresh start in 10 steps.

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer.  

Before Starting…

First, you need to determine whether filing bankruptcy will help you. Bankruptcy is a powerful debt relief tool, but only if it makes sense for your financial situation. Filing any type of bankruptcy provides immediate debt relief through the automatic stay. Thatâs the law that prohibits creditors from contacting you as soon as your bankruptcy case has been filed. It also stops a wage garnishment right away.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a very effective tool for erasing credit card debt, medical debts, and most other unsecured debt. Although Chapter 7 is a liquidation bankruptcy, filers are able to keep all their property in more than 90% of all consumer bankruptcy cases in the United States. You can file bankruptcy under Chapter 7 once every 8 years. 

  • The name of your bankruptcy trustee

  • The date, time, and location of your meeting with your trustee

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Which Court Location Will Issue Your Claim

Unless a statute or rule directs otherwise, you may commence your proceeding at any court office in Ontario. Note that a defendant may ask the court to have the case transferred to a different court location.

For a list of court addresses, or visit: .

Many Pro Se Cases Fail

  • Lots of people who file for bankruptcy without an attorney fail
  • They do not get their discharge, and even worse they may not be eligible to file for bankruptcy again
  • Just 48% of people who filed for bankruptcy in California without an attorney got their discharge
  • In addition, 27% of pro se cases were dismissed, without the person getting the discharge they wanted

This means that over half of all people in California who filed without an attorney didnt get a discharge.

In 2014, my firm filed 1,014 Chapter 7 bankruptcies.

  • 1,012 of those people got their discharge
  • The two that didnt both failed to complete their financial management course, and so didnt get their discharge

My firm has a 99.91% success rate with Chapter 7 Bankruptcy discharges.

Are you that confident you can do better?

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What Happens To Assets In Bankruptcy Will I Lose Everything

Bankruptcy offers you a fresh start. You are able to keep basic possessions and there are options to keep other assets.

Once you are legally bankrupt, bankruptcy law requires you to surrender your assets to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. These assets will then be sold and the money earned will be distributed among your creditors.

You dont lose everything. Under Ontario bankruptcy law there is a list of items which are exempt from seizure, when going bankrupt in Ontario. These bankruptcy exempt assets include most of your personal and household belongings and tools used to earn a living and protection in the event your home equity falls below the set threshold .

Attend Your 341 Meeting

How Much Does a Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost?

Your 341 meeting, or meeting of creditors, will take place about a month after your bankruptcy case is filed. Youâll find the date, time, and location of your 341 meeting on the notice youâll get from the court a few days after filing bankruptcy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all 341 meetings are held either by video conference or via telephone until at least October. 

The main purpose of the 341 meeting is for the case trustee to verify your identity and ask you certain standard questions and most last only about 5 minutes. Your creditors are allowed to attend and ask you questions about your financial situation, but they almost never do. 

ââ You must bring your government-issued ID and social security card to the meeting. If you donât bring an approved form of both, the trustee canât verify your identity and the meeting cannot go forward. You should also bring a copy of your bankruptcy forms to the meeting, along with your last 60 days of pay stubs, your recent bank statements, and any other documents that your trustee has asked for. ââ 

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Do You Know The Legal Name Of The Person Or Business You Wish To Sue And Their Current Residential Or Business Address

You will need correct information about whom you are suing to properly prepare and serve your claim, and to enforce a judgment if you are successful.

You can find information about how to search a corporation or registered business name at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Servicesââ¬â¢ website. You must pay a fee for the search and you must have the exact name of the registered business or corporation or the Ontario corporation number.

Filing For Bankruptcy Without An Attorney

From a legal standpoint, there’s no issue with representing yourself in your bankruptcy case. It is certainly possible to do so. “Pro se” filers, those who file on their own, have no extra barriers facing them than those who file with the help of an attorney.

While it’s possible to file for bankruptcy on your own, the federal court system strongly recommends against it. Filing pro se means that you can only rely on your own knowledge of the legal system and bankruptcy. The judges and other legal professionals you will meet in the process are prohibited by law from providing any assistance.

If you’re wondering whether or not you should hire an attorney to help file bankruptcy, consider factors such as how complex your case will be and how comfortable you are researching bankruptcy law.

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Is It Possible For One To File For Bankruptcy Without A Bankruptcy Lawyer

The answer to this is very simple, yes, it is.  It is possible for you to file a bankruptcy without a lawyer.  In fact, there are proper processes that you can use to carry out this process.  All you need to do is make use of the filing process which is the provided way of going about this issue.  

If you wish to go about this process without the use of a lawyer then this is the right way to go about it.  As to the question of whether it is possible to file a bankruptcy claim without a lawyer the answer is yes. However, much as it is possible for you to do all this and make it possible, it is essential for you to be careful with how you do this.  

When To File For Bankruptcy

Filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy without an attorney

Bankruptcy law exists to help people who have taken on an unmanageable amount of debtoften as a result of large medical bills or other unexpected expenses that are no fault of their ownto make a fresh start. But it isnt a simple process and doesnt always lead to a happy ending.

So before filing for bankruptcy, be sure to explore all your alternatives and be prepared for some of the negative consequences described above. If you decide that bankruptcy is your only viable optionas hundreds of thousands of Americans do every yearremember that the blot on your record will not be permanent. By using credit carefully in the future and paying your bills on time, you can begin to rebuild your credit and gradually put bankruptcy behind you.

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Part 1 Of 3: Completing Credit Counseling

  • 1Find an approved agency. U.S. bankruptcy law requires you to complete credit counseling before you file your petition. To find an agency in your area that is approved by the courts to provide this service, visit the Office of the U.S. Trustee’s website and review their list. XResearch source
  • You may be eligible for an exemption from the counseling requirement if there’s no approved agency in your area. This usually isn’t an issue, however, since credit counselors will meet with you over the phone.
  • Approved agencies typically have websites you can visit so you can get a better idea of the services they offer and their general focus before you commit to one over the others.
  • Once you’ve chosen an agency, call and make an appointment. Tell them you want the required credit counseling to file for bankruptcy.
  • You will pay a fee for your credit counseling, typically around $50. In some circumstances the agency may waive the fee if you are in dire financial straits and have extremely limited income.
  • 2Gather financial documents. You must provide the credit counselor an accurate and up-to-date picture of your finances, so you’ll need your most recent account statements as well as pay stubs or other proof of income.XResearch sourceXResearch source
  • You may have been avoiding your mail and allowing “late” notices to accumulate, but once you decide to file for bankruptcy it’s imperative that you open all of your mail.
  • If You Can’t Afford A Bankruptcy Attorney

    While having a bankruptcy lawyer on your side will almost always be better than filing yourself, not all debtors can afford legal counsel. If it isn’t a possibility, you might consider:

    • getting help from a local free clinic or legal aid society
    • finding a pro bono attorney to accept your case at a free or reduced rate, or
    • paying most of the attorneys’ fees through a Chapter 13 repayment plan.
  • Trade
  • Self-help services may not be permitted in all states. The information provided on this site is not legal advice, does not constitute a lawyer referral service, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is or will be formed by use of the site. The attorney listings on this site are paid attorney advertising. In some states, the information on this website may be considered a lawyer referral service. Please reference the Terms of Use and the Supplemental Terms for specific information related to your state. Your use of this website constitutes acceptance of the Terms of Use, Supplemental Terms, Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Do Not Sell My Personal Information

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    Which Is The Right Court To Start Your Claim

    i. Small Claims Court

    If your claim is for $35,000 or less or for the return of personal property valued at $35,000 or less, not including interest and costs, you may wish to bring your claim in Small Claims Court.

    If the amount of your claim is worth more than $35,000, you can still choose to use Small Claims Court because it is simpler and less expensive. However, if you choose Small Claims Court you cannot claim more than $35,000. You will have to give up any amount over $35,000 and cannot start a claim at a later date for the amount in excess of the $35,000.

    For more information about Small Claims Court, visit the Ministry of the Attorney General website at: .

    ii. Superior Court of Justice

    If you are proceeding with a claim for more than $35,000, you should start your claim in the Superior Court of Justice.

    The Superior Court of Justice deals with almost all types of civil cases except:

    • Cases where a law says that the matter must go to a special government agency or tribunal. These include residential tenancy complaints, workers’ compensation matters and labour relations. For more information about these matters, visit Justice Ontario at: .
    • Cases where the Federal Court has control. These include federal tax matters, immigration matters, and patents and trademarks. Visit the Federal Court website at:

    Mandatory Credit Counseling For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

    Filing Bankruptcy Without Using An Attorney

    Everyone who files a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, even if you are filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy yourself, has to complete a mandatory credit counseling course. Many of these courses are found online and are not very expensive. The typical costs for credit counseling courses are around $25. Some providers might even reduce or waive the fee. 

    The mandatory credit counseling course for Chapter 7 bankruptcy must be completed before you file your petition. Failure to follow this requirement will result in your case being dismissed by the Court. 

    The debtor education counseling course will provide you with a certificate of completion, which you will file with the Court.

    A list of approved counseling agencies can be found here: 

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    When You Might Not Need A Bankruptcy Attorney

    If you have a simple Chapter 7, you will have a better chance of completing your case without a bankruptcy lawyer. The hallmarks of a simple Chapter 7 would include a:

    • household income below your state’s median income level
    • little or no property
    • no recent property transfers or payments to preferred creditors , and
    • your creditors aren’t likely to dispute a debt.

    But keep in mind that even filing a simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires a fair amount of time and research on your part. If you want to complete your case, obtain a discharge, and not put any of your property at risk, you have to:

    • accurately fill out several bankruptcy forms and schedules
    • learn how bankruptcy laws work
    • research your state’s exemptions, and
    • follow all the rules and procedures necessary to complete the bankruptcy process.

    How To File Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer

    3 minute read ⢠Upsolve is a nonprofit tool that helps you file bankruptcy for free. Think TurboTax for bankruptcy. Get free education, customer support, and community. Featured in Forbes 4x and funded by institutions like Harvard University so we’ll never ask you for a credit card. Explore our free tool

    In a Nutshell

    You are not required to hire an attorney to file bankruptcy. You can do so for free, or with a legal aid organization.

    Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice.  

    You always have the option to file bankruptcy without a lawyer. Representing yourself is called filing âpro seâ and it is an option in any legal proceeding. And yet, while it is always possible to file a bankruptcy without a lawyer, the better question is should you? In this article we will examine some bankruptcy basics to help educate you about the different types of bankruptcies and the relief they can offer. For simple straightforward cases it is entirely possible to be successful pro se. For more complicated matters it is usually better to have a lawyer or legal aid to assist you.

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    Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Yourself

    First, even before you begin to explore your eligibility, ask yourself, What do I have to lose? Do you have any property that is valuable? Do you own real estate?

    For people who really dont have any significant property, dont have much income, and are burdened with overwhelming debt they simply cant pay, then there may not be much risk even if the bankruptcy fails.

    On the other hand, if youve built up equity in your real estate, or if you have vehicles or other personal property that you want to protect, then it is at least advisable to seek an initial consultation with a bankruptcy attorney. Bankruptcy lawyers can often tell you whether or not you are a candidate for Chapter 7 at a free consultation. A bankruptcy petition preparer is, by law, not permitted to give you legal advice. Although most people dont lose property in Chapter 7, it is called a liquidation bankruptcy for a reason. 

    If youre interested in filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy yourself, you could tell the attorney this. Just be honest. Most attorneys will tell you whether or not you may experience problems if you try to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy yourself.

    Assuming that you have not filed bankruptcy before and your income is under the median income for your family size, you will not need to worry about the means test. You will have to fill out the bankruptcy schedules. The means test is a complicated matter.


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