Can I File for Bankruptcy Without a Lawyer?
When it comes to legal proceedings, it is best to view them in much the same way you would a medical concern. When there are issues with your health, you visit a doctor or often a specialist when you have a certain ailment because they have the experience and specialized training you do not. Lawyers function in the same capacity, and they offer the experience, insight, and tools to help guide you through your unique legal journey.
For many people who consider bankruptcy, there may come a time when they wonder if they actually need a lawyer. While you have the right to have legal representation during bankruptcy proceedings, there is no legal requirement that you must have an attorney. Filing bankruptcy without a lawyer is known as “pro se,” and it is not always a wise decision.
If you are considering filing bankruptcy as a pro se debtor, is important to consider what you risk when taking on a legal endeavor without assistance, as well as how you can benefit by working with an attorney. At Wadhwani & Shanfeld, our attorneys frequently field questions from prospective clients who voiced their consideration of filing without a lawyer, only to later choose our team to help them along the way after realizing the importance of having proven help. Ultimately, they understood that choosing the right bankruptcy attorney can make all the difference.
Here’s what to think about when you consider filing for bankruptcy without a lawyer:
- What’s required – Filing for bankruptcy on your own is not an easy endeavor. Because there is a lot of legal information, procedural rules and guidelines, and many forms and documents you must complete and provide, filing both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a daunting process. Pro se filers are also expected to know the rules of federal courts and follow the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. Filing an effective case would require an extensive amount of time and research for a person who files pro se, and there’s no guarantee they won’t inadvertently make a mistake that jeopardizes their rights and the process due to a lack of experience or familiarity with the subject.
- Lack of insight – One of the most important things to remember is that you simply don’t know what you don’t know. This means you may not be able to identify your available options, or even a better approach to your issue. A lack of insight can also led to tremendous challenges should an unexpected complexity arise in your case. At Wadhwani & Shanfeld, we have filed more than 10,000 bankruptcy cases for a diverse clientele, and have learned the intricacies of how certain actions and situations will be handled in bankruptcy and what can be expected in a given case. We leverage this insight to help our clients fully explore their options, understand their rights, and obtain the best possible outcome.
- Advice – The U.S. Bankruptcy Court explicitly strongly recommends filing bankruptcy with the help of an attorney due to the long-term financial and legal outcomes it can have. When you file alone, you will be hard pressed to find the advice and guidance you need, as judges and employees of the court are not allowed to give you any legal advice by law. We advise clients on all matters of their cases from beginning to end, including which Chapter of bankruptcy is most appropriate, the nature of their debt and what can be discharged, how to keep property when possible, tax consequences of given actions, creditor payments, and much more.
- Complex cases - While working with a lawyer can benefit anyone who is considering bankruptcy, it becomes critical when cases are complex, especially if they involve property and assets, non-dischargeable debts, and other financial complexities. In cases involving Chapter 13 repayment plans and issues involving foreclosure defense, second mortgages, liens, and other related issues, having an attorney is essential to effectively and efficiently handling the labor intensive work required. Our team is also prepared to handle matters of creditor harassment and assist you in protecting your rights when creditors don’t play by the rules.
- What’s at stake – Considering bankruptcy is a sign of insurmountable problems with debt. During one of the most difficult financial times in your life, you want to be sure that you take the best and most appropriate steps to protect your interests, your rights, and establishing the foundation for future success. By going it alone, you miss out on the opportunity of not only the counsel and guidance needed to ensure you navigate the process successfully, but also the tools and information you need as you complete bankruptcy and move toward financial freedom.
Attorneys Raj Wadhwani and Greg Shanfeld are two of just 84 Board Certified Bankruptcy Specialists by the American Board of Certification, and they focus on consumer bankruptcy. Over the years, we have helped more than 15,000 men, women, and families across Southern California successfully navigate bankruptcy and other debt and financial matters when they needed it most by leveraging our attorneys’ expertise and their passion for making a lasting difference.
If you have questions about your current situation and how our bankruptcy attorneys may be able to help you through the bankruptcy process, do not hesitate to reach out to our firm. We offer free consultations, and can personally explain the value and benefits you receive when choosing our team.
Contact us today for a free consultation.