Understanding bankruptcy

Do I need a bankruptcy attorney?

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There are three options when you’re filing for bankruptcy:

  1. Pro se - filing on your own behalf
  2. Using a petition preparer - cheaper than a bankruptcy attorney, a preparer is there just to help you make sense of the paperwork and cannot give you legal advice.
  3. With the help of a bankruptcy attorney
A lot of Americans who are facing bankruptcy jump to the conclusion that they can’t afford a bankruptcy attorney and that they should file on their own, or “pro se.”

It’s totally understandable. Attorneys are usually expensive, and you’re not exactly in the best financial shape of your life at the moment, right?

Well, while it’s possible to file on your own, in the real world, it’s incredibly time-consuming and difficult.

You might even have a bit of time on your hands and consider it would be worth it to save the attorney’s fee (and maybe it is for your situation), but there are a few factors you might not realize...

Bankruptcy attorneys do this all day long. That means they should know the paperwork forwards and backwards. And more than just the paperwork: they’ll have an in-depth understanding of all possible exemptions that might be allowed, and which assets you are able to claim.

Individuals filing on their own behalf usually aren’t as familiar with the legal codes, and the different assets you’ll be able to retain. So they run the risk of losing important and valuable belongings that they didn’t have to forfeit.

The other thing that comes with the knowledge and experience of a bankruptcy lawyer is other possible solutions outside of bankruptcy. Bankruptcy isn’t always the answer, and your situation may qualify you for a number of other solutions to resolve your debt that you haven’t even thought of yet.

Not all bankruptcy attorneys are expensive, and most offer free consultations.

Certainly it’s worth meeting with one or two of them to see what options you might have. You might even find a lawyer who is upfront with you and who gives you the confidence that your situation will be resolved in your best interest.

Other popular bankruptcy questions

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