How To File Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer
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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.
Community Property State Vs A Common Law State
Whether you live in a community property stateproperty acquired during the marriage belongs to both memberscan affect how the bankruptcy is conducted. If you and your spouse live in a community property state, your property is a separate entity called the community.
You can own property separately that you brought into the marriage, or that you were given or inherited in your name only during the marriage. However, most property acquired during the marriage is considered property of the community.;
This affects what property becomes part of the bankruptcy estate, whether the trustee can take the property to pay creditors, which debts will be discharged, and who gets the benefit of the discharge.
The list of states that recognize community property is relatively short. The rest of the U.S. states are common law stateswhere property acquired during the marriage solely belongs to the person that bought it. The following are community property states:
Going back to our example, because Mark and Ellen live in Texas, a community property state, all the property they’ve acquired since they married is part of the community. This includes their home, their cars , and even the income from their jobs.;
Alaska is technically not a community property state by default, but married residents can opt into treating their assets as community property.
Why Not File For Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer In North Carolina
The Noth Carolina Bankruptcy attorneys at Sasser Law Firm have seen this play out many times in North Carolina courts. Unfortunately, filing bankruptcy pro se is more difficult than just filling out forms. Errors associated with a pro se filing can come with real, lasting consequences.
With the help of a board-certified bankruptcy specialist, you may actually save significant money and protect some of your most important assets. The bankruptcy lawyers at Sasser Law Firm are board-certified specialists ready to help North Carolinians when they need it most.
Contact us today to set up a free consultation to learn about your options.
In addition to free consultations, our bankruptcy law firm requires no up-front fees or cost in order to file Chapter 13 and obtain relief. The fees and costs for Chapter 13 are rolled into the repayment plan.
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Green Zone And Red Zone: Categorisation Of Bankrupts And The Associated Privileges
Despite the restrictions placed on bankrupts, they may be afforded or withheld certain further privileges depending on whether they have been categorised to be in the Green Zone or Red Zone.
Bankrupts who display satisfactory conduct during bankruptcy are generally placed in the Green Zone. They also get more privileges such as:
- Being granted a travel permit of more than a month to any country
- Being assessed as suitable for discharge from bankruptcy
On the other hand, bankrupts who display unsatisfactory conduct during bankruptcy are generally placed in the Red Zone. They may have certain privileges withheld, such as:
- Not being allowed to travel
- Not being given permission to manage a business or act as a director
- Being assessed as unsuitable for discharge from bankruptcy
The following table shows some factors that the OA may take into account when deciding whether to place a bankrupt in the Green Zone or Red Zone:
|Uncooperative with OA|
Dealing With Your Car
If your car is paid for, youâll be able to keep it as long as you can protect its full value with an exemption. The federal bankruptcy exemptions have a specific motor vehicle provision, but the Pennsylvania bankruptcy exemptions donât. So, if you have nonexempt equity in your motor vehicle, the federal bankruptcy exemptions may be better suited for your case.
If youâre still paying on your car loan, youâll have to let the bank and the court know how you want to handle the debt. Unlike credit card debt or medical bills, which are an unsecured debt, if you stop making payments on a secured debt like a car loan, youâll face a repossession plus a possible lawsuit for whatâs left owing on the loan.
Filing bankruptcy under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code gives you the ability to walk away from your car and car loan. The bank takes the car to sell it at auction and the bankruptcy court erases your obligation to keep paying on the loan.
If you want to keep the car you can do so as long as youâre current with your car payments. Youâll get to decide between signing a reaffirmation agreement to keep everything essentially the same and a redemption. For a redemption, youâll need to pay the bank the current fair market value of your car in exchange for a clean title. The loan balance will be eliminated by the bankruptcy discharge. Check out Can I Keep My Car If I File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in 2020? in Upsolveâs Learning Center for more.
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How Long Does It Take When Filing Bankruptcy On Credit Cards
Generally, Chapter 7 bankruptcy takes less time to file than does Chapter 13. Thats because Chapter 7 is a much simpler process and does not require the creation of a court-approved repayment plan. Typically a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be completed within a few months, while a Chapter 13 can take 6-12 months. Some of this is determined by the complexity of your financial situation and the nature of your debts.
Who Can File For Bankruptcy
It is certainly possible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy without an attorney. After all, there is no legal obligation for you to have one to file bankruptcy. But you should probably only file without an attorney if your filing a simple Chapter 7 case, as well explain below. In this article, well outline the steps you can take to file for bankruptcy without an attorney. Well also explain exactly how an attorney can help you throughout the bankruptcy process and whether it makes sense for you to file with or without one based on your situation.
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Tenancy By The Entirety
Tenancy by the entirety;is a form of property ownership. Not all states recognize this provision. In those states that do, some apply it only for real property, while others apply it to personal property as well.
The owners must be marriedor in some cases, registered domestic partnersand must have acquired the property at the same time. This property is exempt in a bankruptcy case . It cannot be reached by a bankruptcy trustee except to satisfy joint debts.
The same is true for creditors. Creditors cannot force the sale of entirety property unless the parties are both liable on the creditor’s debt.
Learn Bankruptcy Law And Procedure
You’ll need to become knowledgeable on federal bankruptcy laws, and the rules and procedures of your local bankruptcy court. For instance, Chapter 7 and 13 each have different qualification requirements and benefits. You’ll need to be sure to choose the best chapter for you.
Also, you must turn over supporting documentslike tax returns, paycheck stubs, and bank statementsand represent yourself at all mandatory hearings. If you don’t put in the time and effort into researching all necessary laws, rules, and procedures, you risk having your case dismissed without a discharge or losing your property.
Even so, it’s still possible to represent yourself in Chapter 7. If you’d like more information on filing on your own, an excellent place to start is with a comprehensive do-it-yourself manual, like Nolo’s How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, by Cara O’Neill & Albin Renauer.
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Fill Out The Paperwork
Filling out the official bankruptcy forms is generally the most complicated and time-consuming task if you choose to file bankruptcy without a lawyer.
Download the bankruptcy forms package to save the time and stress involved in tracking down the necessary materials. The packages are inexpensive and provide you with all the forms you need to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in your state.
Once you complete the forms, attach the relevant documents and submit the paperwork with the filing fee either in person or by mail. It’s important that you promptly respond to any correspondence from the bankruptcy trustee. Failure to do so can get your case dismissed.
Take A Personal Financial Management Instruction Course
Finally, you must complete a post-filing Personal Financial Management Instruction Course within 45 days of your meeting of creditors. Take a look at the U.S. Trustee Program’s site to find an approved course near you. After you’ve completed the course, the last step is to wait to hear from the bankruptcy court whether your debts have been discharged.
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What Is Pro Se Bankruptcy Filing In North Carolina
In North Carolina, or anywhere else in the country, individuals dont have to hire a lawyer in order to declare and file for bankruptcy. A registered entity such as a corporation or LLC would need a lawyer. Individuals can choose pro se.
You are allowed to fill out the appropriate bankruptcy forms on your own. You then file those forms with the court by yourself. And you defend any challenges to your filing yourself.
The government provides the paperwork online for anyone to use for free. Some of the forms are quite straightforward. Youll list your personal details and disclose your financial situation. Many of the forms, however, are much more intricate.
To maximize the relief available, it may require knowledge of the United States Bankruptcy Code, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the local rules of the District the case is being filed in, precedential caselaw, and North Carolina statutes.
That seems simple enough. Youve probably filled out plenty of government forms, from your taxes to the census to a voter registration card. Once you look at the full extent of the digital files youll need to download, answer accurately, and submit correctly, you may reconsider.
You should think carefully before you file bankruptcy without a lawyer. Namely, there are numerous risks to pro se bankruptcy filing and many advantages to hiring a bankruptcy attorney.
How Much Bankruptcy Costs And How To Pay For It
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Its a classic catch-22: Youre in rough financial shape and need to file for bankruptcy. But between filing fees and the cost of hiring the right bankruptcy attorney, you could end up paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars to do so.
Heres what bankruptcy costs and how to pay for it.
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How To Declare Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer
additional information How To Declare Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer
Find Out A couple of Important Information In choosing Bankrupties Law firm
If you are considering employing a las vegas bankruptcy laywer, you have to make certain of several things which means you realize that you earn a good choice. After all, you ought not keep your financial plans in the hands of merely anyone. Learn a number of information that you can look for in the particular agency which handles your scenario.
You should initial determine if this kind of subject will be the only one handled by the attorney. You’ll need a expert, not really somebody that dabbles in a little every little thing. This means you should look for any las vegas bankruptcy laywer specifically, not necessarily someone who in addition bargains a whole lot using divorce, criminal, or even tax laws and regulations. You could be amazed the number of law firms have a tendency to accept all sorts of situations. Though it may be nice to be able to get information on numerous subjects at merely one agency, it is best to locate a expert considering that they might perform great job in your a bankruptcy proceeding circumstance, not only an ok career about numerous instances for a similar individual. You can discover this fine detail on-line since most authorized websites point out which practice areas your law firms tend to be informed about.
How To Declare Bankruptcy Without A LawyerHow To Declare Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer
Avoid Complicated Chapter 7 Cases And All Chapter 13 Bankruptcies
If you have a complicated Chapter 7 bankruptcy or if you are considering filing a Chapter 13 case, you’ll want to hire an attorney. These types of bankruptcy cases have many pitfalls for self-represented debtors and are a lot harder to complete on your own. In fact, most attorneys who don’t practice bankruptcy law regularly will not file bankruptcy cases. There’s too much risk of making an error.
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Getting A Lawyer To Help You With Your Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a specialized area of law that is very complex. And the issues are not always apparent or simple. The bankruptcy laws changed in October 2005 to discourage many people from filing for bankruptcy. So the law became more complicated. And there are more situations where a mistake can result in your case getting dismissed. If your case is dismissed, the bankruptcy court often imposes a penalty of 180 days before you can refile, and in this time period a lot can happen. This is why it is so important to have a lawyer advise you and help you with your bankruptcy.
Find a lawyer who can help you work through the issues, alternatives you may have, and consequences of your choices.
- Pick a lawyer with whom you are comfortable, one who will allow you to ask questions and give you responses that you can understand.
- Pick a lawyer who either specializes in bankruptcy or does a large part of his or her practice in the field.
- Ask questions until you understand what your choices are.
- Don’t be afraid to interview a lawyer and leave without hiring him or her.
If you decide to represent yourself in bankruptcy court, read a guide for Filing for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney.
To find a good bankruptcy lawyer:
- Check state bar groups and specialization/certification programs for bankruptcy lawyers in your community.
- Ask other lawyers or tax preparers you know for recommendations.
Can I File Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer
Yes, you can legally file for bankruptcy without a lawyer. But should you?
Every year, thousands of Americans find themselves too broke to pay off their debts, yet unable to afford bankruptcy. It probably comes as no surprise that attorneys’ fees make up the lion’s share of bankruptcy expenses. So you might be wondering, “Do I really need a lawyer to file for bankruptcy?”
It largely depends on how complex your case is. If you own little property and don’t make a lot of money, it might be possible to file bankruptcy pro se . But while filing for bankruptcy on your own can save you money, it’s a serious undertaking. You’ll have to pull together all of your financial documentation, file a lot of paperwork on time, and communicate with your bankruptcy trustee. You’ll also need to take the time to understand the state and federal laws that apply.
In this section, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a few tips to help make the process as simple and painless as possible.
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What To Do Before Filing Bankruptcy
Do contact an Ohio bankruptcy lawyer as soon as you think youre in trouble. Meeting with an attorney to discuss your financial situation will help provide the necessary knowledge and advice that you need to move forward and consultation is FREE. Too many people wait until the last minute, which can dramatically limit the number of options that are available to you.
Do be honest. Be forthcoming with your Ohio bankruptcy lawyer, as well as yourself about everything. It is imperative that you disclose everything and anything about your financial situation in order for it to be handled properly. Whatever information you tell your attorney, will stay with your attorney. If there is information that must be disclosed in bankruptcy papers, then your attorney will discuss this matter with you beforehand. The attorney-client confidentiality protects you from having unwanted information released. For example, if you have a house that is paid off or a big bonus from work that you do not want to discuss, your attorney will advise you as to whether this is information that you will need to disclose. It is far worse to hold information back and realize later on that you are under penalty or perjury for not sharing information.
Do continue to make payments on any vehicle that you want to keep. If you default on a payment, creditors have the right to repossess your vehicle without giving you notice.