Can You File Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer?

The short answer is yes, but filing bankruptcy without a lawyer can be very financially dangerous.  Of course it is tempting for people in bad enough financial situations that they need to file bankruptcy to try to save money, but that savings must be weighed against the potential risks of making mistakes that could cost even more money.

Awhile ago, I consulted with a couple I’ll call Fred & Jean (not their real names) who were deciding whether to file chapter 7 bankruptcy on their own or to hire a lawyer to do it.  Fred & Jean owned a home that had substantial equity; in other words, if they sold their home, they would get money after the bank and realtors were paid.  Fred & Jean did not know how to use California’s complicated exemption system, and would have chosen the wrong system.  If they had filed chapter 7 bankruptcy without a lawyer, Fred & Jean would have lost their home!

Every case is different and it might be OK to file bankruptcy on your own if you have a simple case and don’t own any valuable assets, and if you are willing to take the time and make the effort to learn how to file properly.  For everyone else, contact a competent bankruptcy attorney if you think that you might need to file bankruptcy.  Filing bankruptcy without a lawyer could end up costing you far more than you would save!