Do I Need an Attorney to File Bankruptcy?

Fri, Jan 27, 2012


image from 401KAn attorney is not required for individuals when filing bankruptcy in the state of Florida. Individuals may file pro se, representing themselves. (Businesses must use an attorney.) However, the courts strongly suggest that you hire an attorney to represent you during your case. Let us examine why.

The appointed trustee and other court personnel cannot advise you. They are not allowed to answer legal questions for you or offer advice. They are only able to provide forms and help with minor (non-legal) questions relating to them.

One helpful thing that the Florida courts usually do have is a brief bankruptcy FAQ on their websites. An example (from the Middle Court of Florida) is found here. In addition to answering some questions about the bankruptcy process and timeline, these types of FAQs help you understand some common bankruptcy questions like:

  •  What are the differences between secured and unsecured debt?
  • What are the differences between chapter 7, 11, and 13 bankruptcies?
  • What must I do before I file my case?

However, no help will be provided to you about your specific case. This is where a qualified attorney makes all the difference. They are able to help you with your specific circumstances. Their previous case experience strengthens their legal knowledge, providing you with the best possible bankruptcy outcome.

Not all cases are simple, as the law office of Christopher Smith has seen. There are often questions about what types of property are protected during bankruptcy, what debts cannot be excluded, when the right time to file bankruptcy is, etc.  In addition, there are often more complicated questions about non-filing spouses, foreclosures, repossessions, older bills, timelines, and taxes.

The help of an attorney is the best way to be sure you are properly filling out forms, meeting the right timeline, gathering the requisite information, and protecting yourself as best you can. Bankruptcy cases need to meet specific requirements; there is nothing worse than a court case being thrown out or dismissed because of an error in paperwork.

If you cannot afford the representation of an attorney, please check around your community for low-cost legal services or some other type of legal support. Our blog has other posts about bankruptcy, click here for more information.

Image credit: 401K

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