Are you planning to file bankruptcy? Do you want to know how to file bankruptcy yourself? Filing bankruptcy is a complex process. If you do not want to hire a lawyer, you will have to understand the legal process. A lawyer can help you with all the required information. These legal experts can make things much easier for you. However, you can file yourself when you do not have a budget to support a lawyer. In this article, we will help you with all the possible information. After going through the following, you can make the right decision.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS?
Before understanding the process, you will have to know you qualify to file for bankruptcy or not. For this, you will have to go through a Mean Test. It is easy, and you can do it without any help. You can do the test to know you meet the criteria for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or not.
You can use a test form of the federal government. It is easily accessible. If you want a simplified version, you can check online. While filling the form, you need to enter some essential information that includes your debt and nonexempt assets, your monthly income, and the number of people in your family. You can manage a bankruptcy without the help of advocates if you have only a few assets and your monthly income is below the median income of your state. In addition to the above, you must not be accused of any fraud case. If you qualify to file bankruptcy, you can think of other steps mentioned below.
COLLECT YOUR CREDIT REPORTS
Collect your credit reports from credit bureaus. You will have to collect from all three bureaus since the creditors do not report to any particular bureau. If you miss any report, it will not be discharged in your filed bankruptcy. After collecting the credit reports, you need to join credit counseling. You can visit the U.S. Trustee Program’s website to know more about credit education agencies.
DO THE PAPERWORK
Once you have completed the credit counseling, you can fill out the bankruptcy form. As you are doing it without any help, you might find the process time-consuming and complex. You can download the form package. It will save your time and effort. The package will have all the forms to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Understand everything and fill the form with accurate information. After filling out the form, you will have to attach all the relevant documents. Now you can submit the form by mail or in-person depending on your convenience. You will have to respond promptly to any query from the trustee. Otherwise, the bankruptcy trustee might dismiss your case.
JOIN THE MEETING OF CREDITORS
Make sure that you are available for the Meeting of Creditors. The meeting will be scheduled, and you will have to ensure your presence. The creditors will not attend the meeting. However, the trustee will be present in the meeting. The trustee will ask you many questions related to your bankruptcy. You might need to do your preparation before attending the meeting. Make sure that your answers are accurate.
COMPLETE A PERSONAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT INSTRUCTION COURSE
You will have to join a post-filing course within forty-five days of meeting with creditors. It is a must, and you cannot avoid it. You can visit the U.S.Trustee Program’s website to find an approved Personal Financial Management Instruction Course in your location. Once you complete the course, you will have to wait for the court’s decision to know the loans have been discharged or not.
IS IT EASY TO FILE A BANKRUPTCY YOURSELF?
No, it is not easy. But it is possible. If you do not want to hire a lawyer, you can represent your case. However, thorough research is a must to succeed. You will need a good understanding of legalities before filing the petition. Any mistake can lead to dismissal. A few factors will decide the complexity level of filing bankruptcy. These factors are the type of bankruptcy, your current financial status, and the complication in your case. Some other factors such as your other financial obligations can also influence bankruptcy.
The most complex thing in bankruptcy is the paperwork. You will have to fill out many forms. You will need extensive legal knowledge to fill out those forms. You might find it time-consuming as well. Therefore, it is suggested to take experts’ help while filling the form to avoid any mistakes or confusion.
HOW MUCH WILL YOU HAVE TO SPEND TO FILE BANKRUPTCY?
You do not need to spend much to file for bankruptcy. The expenses will include credit counseling, financial management course, and your filing fee. You can inquire about these expenses and prepare yourself accordingly. You can also file bankruptcy with no money. In that condition, you can request a fee waiver. It applies to Chapter 7 bankruptcy. For Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can request the judge to add the payment to the repayment plan.
WHEN YOU CANNOT FILE BANKRUPTCY YOURSELF
In most of the conditions, you can file bankruptcy yourself without hiring a lawyer. However, exceptions can be made. In some situations, you will not be allowed to file bankruptcy without taking the help of advocates. Here are a few conditions that might warrant an advocate’s help.
- When your partnership or corporation is filing bankruptcy, a lawyer can file your case.
- When you cannot pass the Mean Test due to your income status, you cannot file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In that condition, you might prefer to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy without a bankruptcy lawyer. However, the process will be more complicated. Therefore, you should take the help of an advocate.
Bankruptcy is not about filling a form only. The process is time-consuming and complex. You will have to do thorough research to understand the legalities and requirements. If you are confident to manage the legal complexities, you can go ahead with your decision. If you are a bit confused, you can hire a bankruptcy lawyer. A legal professional can help in every step to bring the decision in your favor.