Numerous debtors who are unfamiliar with the complexity of the process attempt to handle it on their own, """"Pro Se"""". But in doing so, they risk filing a bankruptcy that can be invalidated, meaning you will not receive creditor relief. In addition, improperly filing your bankruptcy could leave some of your property and assets unprotected, which could result in the loss of many items you could have retained after the bankruptcy is finalized.
Even if you believe you cannot afford it, you may still have options that will allow you to file for bankruptcy without worsening your financial situation.
Save some money before filing. While conducting interviews with potential attorneys and preparing the necessary paperwork, you can continue to save money.
Consider methods to collect the necessary funds. Sell certain items that you will likely lose in bankruptcy. Stop making payments on debts you intend to eliminate through the bankruptcy process.
Search for affordable bankruptcy attorneys. Numerous bankruptcy lawyers offer discounted initial consultations. Use this session to determine if filing for bankruptcy is the correct decision for you and what you will need to do to file for bankruptcy.
Negotiate for a fee reduction. Try to negotiate a payment amount with your attorney that you can afford. Propose some terms and request a payment plan, and observe the attorney's response.
Obtain a loan from a friend or relative. This can alleviate the burden of paying fees alone.
Look for attorneys who provide gratis or """"Pro Bono"""" legal services. Conduct research to determine whether or not there are low-income legal services in your area. Typically, you can find more information about pro Bono attorneys online, through your state bar, or by speaking with local attorneys. Numerous seasoned attorneys allocate a certain amount of time each year to pro bono work.
Manage your expenses and budget. Try to adhere to a strict budget and monitor your expenditures so that you can set aside the necessary funds for the bankruptcy filing.
Tax Refund. If you receive an annual tax refund, you can use that money to pay attorney fees.
Consult with a bankruptcy lawyer prior to filing your case. The majority of attorneys offer free consultations and provide information on the bankruptcy procedure, the particulars of your case, and the type of bankruptcy you should file.
Fees must be paid through your Chapter 13 repayment plan. If you can afford to pay your attorney, you can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy solely to pay your attorney's fees through your repayment plan if you can afford to do so.
Instead of paying the creditor, you should pay your lawyer. You can afford to pay your attorney's fees because the money that would have gone to the creditor is now being paid to your attorney instead.
Reduce unneeded monthly expenses. Examine your expenses to determine whether any can be eliminated. Can you survive without cable television, pest control, an alarm system, and a residential telephone?
Labor longer hours. You may want to consider getting a second job or working longer hours at your current job.
Seek out legal aid clinics. Depending on your income, legal clinics offer advice and representation at minimal or no cost. Some bankruptcy courts have clinics or information centers designed to assist self-represented debtors with their cases or provide additional information about the free legal services available in their region.
Describe yourself. If you decide that you still do not have sufficient funds and you will represent yourself, you must conduct thorough investigation and devote sufficient time to your work. However, there are several factors to consider before beginning to represent yourself.
Time available. You must have sufficient leisure to assume the role of part-time attorney.
Form of bankruptcy proceeding. Chapter 13 bankruptcy, on the other hand, can last between three and five years. If your Chapter 7 bankruptcy is straightforward, you may be able to file on your own. However, even a straightforward Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires significant effort and research.
The nature and complexity of your case.
How comfortable you are conducting legal research and representing yourself in court.
Before deciding that you cannot afford bankruptcy, you should investigate your budget and all available alternatives. Self-represented bankruptcies may also be risky than those filed by attorneys. Before committing to a course of action, you must conduct extensive investigation on the process. In the event that your bankruptcy is dismissed due to improper filing, you will receive no relief from your creditors. You risk having your case dismissed without a discharge or losing your property if you do not take the time and make the effort to research all pertinent laws, rules, and procedures.
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