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|LegalCornerTM - Chapter 7 - Liquidation Bankruptcy F.A.Q.'s|
Q.Do I need an attorney to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Federal law permits a bankruptcy petitioner to file "pro se" (without an attorney), but proceed with caution because the bankruptcy code is very complex and individuals who represent themselves are held to the same standard as attorneys. While you may try to do it yourself, its important to know the various filing requirements, all of the exemption choices, and any available adversary possibilities.
A few forms that a bankruptcy petitioner will need to complete if filing pro se include: the Bankruptcy Petition, which varies depending on the type of bankruptcy being filed; and the "Statement of Financial Affairs." This Statement requires: (a) detailed information about the petitioner's background and financial history for the past two years, (b) a complete listing of the petitioner’s assets and liabilities, and (c) statements concerning the petitioner's then present financial condition.
A bankruptcy petitioner who files pro se will also have to decide which debts s/he may be exempt from repaying, under the terms of the Bankruptcy Code.
The most common mistakes made by "pro se" petitioners who often use the services of a paralegal include:
Because of the complexity, it is a good idea to seek professional legal advice, especially if you own a home or a vehicle that is not leased or financed. An attorney can review your financial situation, determine which type of bankruptcy is right for you, and help you understand your options under both federal and state law. Although some paralegals may appear competent, a paralegal may NOT, under any circumstances, provide legal advice to any debtor and often a simple mistake can lead to the dismissal of your bankruptcy petition.