People sometimes think they can’t afford an attorney to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. They might consider the following alternatives.
- File on your own
- Obtain assistance from a free clinic or legal aid society in your area
- Find a pro bono attorney
- File for Chapter 13 bankruptcy to pay attorney fees through your repayment plan
Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy without an Attorney
Bankruptcy laws don’t require you to have an attorney, however, read the article “Don’t try this at home,” Bankruptcy laws are complex, even simple Chapter 7 cases require you to complete extensive forms, research exemption laws, and follow all local court rules and procedures. You will have to consult an attorney if you are not comfortable filing on your own.
Free Clinics and Legal Aid
Some bankruptcy courts have free clinics to help debtors file for bankruptcy relief on their own. Mr. Martin conducts such a class monthly as part of the Southern District of South Florida’s “Pro Se” Bankruptcy Program. Go to https://www.facebook.com/jonlmartinlaw/ for dates and times.
Pro Bono Attorneys
Some attorneys take on a limited number of pro bono (no fee) cases. For instance, seniors with little or no income are sometimes able to find some help.
Filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows debtors to pay all or a portion of their attorney fees through their repayment plan. However, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy may not work for everyone. And you will still encounter certain up-front costs. Moreover, many courts reject “fee only” Chapter 13’s. If you don’t have enough income to afford your Chapter 13 plan, you will not qualify.
Filing any bankruptcy is complex. Most people need help. Many times, an attorney can suggest resources such as legal aid services and local help programs for attorney fee assistance. Don’t ignore your money problems just because you think you can’t afford an attorney! Remember, doing nothing, changes nothing!
Talk to an attorney! It’s the surest way of changing your life for the better.
Bankruptcy is not the end…IT’S THE BEGINNING OF A BETTER LIFE!!!