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Attorney Not Required
You are not required to hire a bankruptcy attorney. You could study and learn online about how to file for bankruptcy by yourself. Filing for bankruptcy without an attorney is called Pro Se or self-help bankruptcy. Just like you don't need a mechanic to fix your car, you could repair it yourself if you possess the time, talent, tools and competency necessary to successfully diagnose the problems and take the steps necessary to get that engine purring again.
Non-Attorney Petition Preparers
If you don't think you can do it all by yourself, or you don't have the time or desire, and you still do not want to consider hiring a competent bankruptcy attorney, you have the option of hiring a non-attorney Bankruptcy Petition Preparer (BPP). This is someone who should know how to fill in the forms.
Be advised! A BPP is not authorized to practice law or give legal advice. According to most court's guidelines, a BPP may not:
If you are working with a BPP, make sure he or she has not been enjoined from preparing petitions. The United States Bankrutpcy Court in the Central District of California has posted a list of enjoined petition preparers.
Pro Bono Bankruptcy Services
If you need to file bankruptcy but you just have no ability to come up with the customary fees, Doan Law Bankrutpcy Attorneys may be able to help you at little or no cost. This is called Pro Bono Bankruptcy. The Doan Attorneys are nice guys with big hearts, and our service to the community is about more than just trying to feed our own families. We may be able to help. Ask us if you qualify for Pro Bono Services.
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Filing bankruptcy takes time and preparation. The following ten steps to filing bankruptcy outline what you can expect to occur in all chapter 7 cases whether or not you hire an attorney.
Your bankruptcy paperwork tells a story that is based upon factual information that is relied upon by the United States Bankruptcy Court, the United States Trustee, and the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee in determining your eligibilty for a chapter 7 discharge. The information you provide must be accuarate and backed up by supporting documentation.
The first step in filing chapter 7 bankruptcy is to gather up your supporting documentation which will include some or all of the documents from the following list:
Have these documents ready and organized before you start preparing your bankrupty forms will make the process go more smoothly.
All individual chapter 7 debtors, subject to certain exceptions, are required to complete a Consumer Credit Counseling Course and obtain a Consumer Credit Counseling Certificate prior to filing bankruptcy.
There are many approved providers to choose from. The Doan Bankruptcy Attorneys utilize the services of www.accessbk.org for both the pre-filing consumer counseling class, as well as the post-filing personal financial managment course.
Your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case will generally consist of the following documents and forms, plus or minus any additional forms required by your local jurisdiction:
Most United States Bankruptcy Courts offer downloadable forms. The Central District of California, for example, provides a link to download a complete Chapter 7 Petition Package which includes instructions on how to fill out your forms.
Be sure to check with your local bankruptcy court to make sure you have all the ancillary forms required by your jurisidiction. And finally, hang on to these items because you may need to submit some of them to the bankrutpcy trustee after your case has been filed.
Self-represented debtors must print their forms and physically deliver them to the office of the clerk of the local United States Bankruptcy Court. Check with your local clerk as to how many copies you need to bring, if any.
Self-represented debtors may also access eSR - Electronic Self-Representation Bankruptcy Petition Preparation System for Chaper 7 and Chapter 13, which is an online tool that helps indviduals prepare their bankruptcy forms. Click here for a demonstration.
All individual chapter 7 debtors, subject to certain exceptions, are required to complete a Personal Financial Management Course and obtain a Certificate of Completion of Personal Financial Management Course after filing bankruptcy. It is advisable to complete the class and file the certificate within a few days of the filing of your bankruptcy case.
There are many approved providers to choose from. The Doan Bankruptcy Attorneys utilize the services of www.accessbk.org for both the pre-filing consumer counseling class, as well as the post-filing personal financial management course.
When you file chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case will receive an electronic version of all the bankruptcy forms filed in your case. In addition to your bankruptcy forms, trustees may request supporting documentation including bank statements, mortgage statements, proof of insurance, retirement statements, etc. You will also be requried to complete a questionnaire prior to the 341 meeting of creditors.
Your bankruptcy forms included Form 108 Statement of Intention for Individuals Filing Under Chapter 7. This form is usually filed with all of your other bankruptcy forms, although the Bankruptcy Code does allow you to file it within 30 days of your bankrutpcy petition or on or before the date of the 341 meeting of creditors, whichever is earlier.
Form 108 indicates what your intentions are as to debts secured by collateral, such as a car loan, home loan, solar panel loan, etc. With respect to such collateral, 11 USC 521 requires you to:
11 USC 521(2)(B) requires you to perform your intentions with reespect to such property within 30 days of your meeting of creditors.
All debtors are required under 11 U.S. Code § 341 to attend a meeting of creditors and equity security holders where the bankruptcy trustee will examine you under oath and ensure that you are aware of:
Historically, the meetings took place in a meeting room at the bankruptcy court or another suitable location. However, since the Corona panic, many jurisdictions continue to conduct such meetings via telephone or Zoom.
You will be given ample notice of your meeting. Your failure to appear at your meeting of creditors may result in the dismissal of your bankruptcy case.
After the conclusion of your meeting of creditors, creditors have 60 days to object to the discharge of their debt. They do not do this unless they have evidence that you may have committed fraud as to their debt or believe you committed fraud against the bankruptcy court.
In most cases where your bankruptcy forms were properly and accurately completed and submitted, your supporting documents were timely submitted to the trustee, and you otherwise complied with your requirements as a debtor, you should receive your bankruptcy discharge within 2 1/2 to 3 months after the conclusion of your 341 meeting of creditors.
The Doan Bankrutpcy Attorneys have helped tens of thousands of happy clients since 1993. That's over 140 combined years of bankruptcy experience working for you.
And we're nice guys, too.
We treat our clients the way we would want to be treated; with understanding, compassion, and tenderness, because we know the frustration, pressure, and hopelessness you feel from drowning in debt is made worse by all the other worries of the world that most people face. Give us a call today, or complete our easy online intake form.
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There's no pressure, no sales tactics, and no strings attached. We can either help you or we can't. You either like us or you don't. But at least you'll know what options are available for you.
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