Do you need an attorney for Bankruptcy?

Do you need an attorney to file for or to represent you in Bankruptcy?  Corporations and partnerships can only proceed in bankruptcy with an attorney. Individual debtors can proceed without an attorney in Chapter 7, 11, and 13. So why hire one? Hiring a bankruptcy attorney is highly recommended because any one mistake may result in the denial of a person's discharge and/or dismissal of the bankruptcy case.

Mistakes include the failure to file the proper documentation within the time period set by court deadlines and the failure to competently complete the bankruptcy documentation. For instance, the debtor may fail to list a creditor on the Bankruptcy petition. In that case, the debt owed to that creditor will not be discharged.

Another example is the failure by the debtor who is representing himself or herself to file the Certificate of Credit Counseling received upon completion of credit counseling prior to bankruptcy. The failure to file this piece of paper will result in dismissal of the case. The same thing can happen when the debtor fails to file the Certificate of Debtor Education.  Another problem occurs when debtor incorrectly exempts or fails to exempt certain assets. The debtor may lose those assets in Chapter 7 from incomplete or improper paperwork.  In the case of a Chapter 7, the trustee may sell assets not exempted resulting in the loss of an asset that otherwise could be retained by the debtor.  Read more about exempt assets.

A document preparer cannot practice law and cannot, therefore, make legal judgments or give legal advice regarding the bankruptcy paperwork. They can be hired to type information on bankruptcy forms but cannot explain the legal requirements to you. Petition preparers cannot appear in court on your behalf.

If you cannot afford an attorney, there are free legal clinics in California that offer pro bono legal services if you qualify. (Find a free pro bono San Francisco Bankruptcy Attorney). 

Call us for a free, no cost or obligation, confidential initial consultation.