What Should I Do if I Feel Like I Cannot Afford a Bankruptcy Lawyer?
1. Alternate Ways To Afford an Attorney
Your attorney won’t file a Chapter 7 case until you have paid them in full. Filing for bankruptcy would erase the fees still owed to your attorney, and a debtor who doesn’t have the fee will need to start asking friends and family for help. If there is no possible option left, qualified Chapter 7 debtors will stop making bill payments if the obligation will be completely discharged in the case. The money will be used for legal fees, and while it may seem sketchy, the court will understand and expect filers to use this approach. It’s critical to make sure that you’re qualified because it can be difficult to pay bills if you find out you aren’t qualified later on. Many attorneys take down payment upfront in a Chapter 13 case, and the remaining gets paid in your repayment plan, allowing you to pay a small part of your legal fees each month.
2. Legal Aid and Free Legal Clinic Attorneys
If you can’t afford a bankruptcy attorney, the next step you can take is finding help at a local legal aid society or a free legal clinic. Legal aid societies are resourceful because they have both staff and volunteer attorneys to help meet the legal needs of the low-income individuals in the community. Find a legal aid society in your local area and check if it has a bankruptcy department. Some bankruptcy courts offer free legal information or clinics to help debtors filing without an attorney. Your court might also provide information regarding other free services in your area.
3. Filing for Bankruptcy Yourself
It’s not required to have an attorney to file for bankruptcy. But it isn’t always a good idea to do it yourself either. Your best interest should be to hire a lawyer depending on whether you are filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter bankruptcy, your level of complexity, whether you can afford an attorney, and how comfortable you are with researching legal information and representing yourself. In certain situations, if you have little or no income and property, you might be able to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on your own. The instruction on the official bankruptcy forms are relatively simple to complete; however, the forms don’t explain what will happen in your case and the outcome.
4. Know Your Property Rights
You are expected to understand the consequences of filing, such as whether you’ll lose your property or a previous transaction. Filing for bankruptcy without an attorney requires extensive research, and many filers should be prepared to learn how to protect property using state and federal exemption laws.
5. Learn Bankruptcy Law and Procedure
To be prepared when filing for bankruptcy, you’ll need to become knowledgeable on federal bankruptcy laws and the rules and procedures of your local bankruptcy court.
Whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, each has different qualification requirements and benefits. Be sure to choose the best chapter and collect any supporting documents like tax returns, paycheck stubs, and bank statements and represent yourself at all mandatory hearings.
It’s important to put in the time and effort into researching all necessary laws, rules, and new procedures, or you could risk having your case dismissed with discharge or losing your property.
6. Meet With a Bankruptcy Attorney
Even though it’s possible to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy on your own, bankruptcy is a complicated process in the area of law, and many filers find it challenging to avoid risks. If you can’t afford an attorney, you should talk to a professional bankruptcy lawyer before filing your case. Most attorneys provide free consultations and can provide helpful information about the bankruptcy process, the type of bankruptcy you should file, and potential problems you may face.
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it’s strongly recommended to hire an attorney because most filers are not successful when filing bankruptcy. Contact Robert P. Laney Law Firm and schedule a consultation to discuss what viable options are available for you.