Can You File Bankruptcy Without an Attorney?
As I’ve said many times, bankruptcy is a great tool to eliminate debt and give you a fresh financial start. One question I get asked often: “If I have to file bankruptcy, then I probably can’t afford an attorney, so can I do this on my own?”
Great question, which I would answer , “Yes, you can file on your own but you should consider hiring an attorney instead.” There are two reasons for my answer – first, I am trained to understand bankruptcy better than you, just like you are trained to understand your profession or occupation better than me, and second, there are way too many “land mines” in a bankruptcy case that you need to understand.
A good friend and referral partner of mine often says “The only thing more expensive than hiring a professional is doing it yourself.”
Another friend of mine often brings up a famous quote by Abraham Lincoln, “You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” Obviously, the sarcasm in that quote stems from attributing it to Abe Lincoln, the point being that very little on the Internet is true (ironic that you’re reading this in my blog, which I’m asking you to believe!).
All of this gets back to my two points above. I am trained to understand bankruptcy better than you. I’ve been practicing in this area for over 16 years (as of the date I write this), I’ve attended hundreds of bankruptcy hearings, drafted countless petitions and motions, taken and taught hundreds of hours of continuing legal education on the subject of bankruptcy, I took a bankruptcy class in law school, and I’ve been admitted to the Florida Bar, and all three Federal District Courts in Florida. While I would appreciate the opportunity to earn your business, I bring up these credentials only to point out that I’ve put the time into my profession, just like you’ve put into yours. I could change my car’s oil, do my own taxes, mow and maintain my own lawn, etc., but I rely on you and your training to provide these services to me.
In addition, do you know the intricacies of the Means Test? Do you know the impact of claiming different exemptions? Do you know the consequences of paying off creditors prior to filing your case? Or transferring assets prior to filing your case? What to do with your tax refund when it comes in at the beginning of the year? There are countless other issues I could bring up, but the point is that I’ve encountered and dealt with most of these issues with other clients of mine, advising them of these issues and how to resolve them, before the issue became something that derailed their bankruptcy cases.
In conclusion – can you file your own bankruptcy petition? Absolutely! However, check with me first to make sure you understand whether bankruptcy is the right choice and what dangers or pitfalls await you. It will be more expensive to hire me to fix mistakes than to hire me from the outset.
If you have questions about bankruptcy, please reach out to me. We offer free consultations either in person or by telephone. You can also listen to the Crushing Debt Podcast on our website, www.YesnerLaw.com/podcasts, or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and GooglePlay to get more information. To schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your options at 727-261-0224 or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shawn M. Yesner, Esq., is the host of the Crushing Debt Podcast and founder of Yesner Law, P.L., a Tampa-based boutique real estate and consumer law firm that helps clients eliminate the financial bullies in their lives. We assist clients with asset protection, the sale and purchase of real property, Chapter 7 liquidation, Chapter 13 reorganization, bankruptcy, foreclosure defense, debt settlement, landlord/tenant issues, short sales, and loan modifications in Tampa, Westchase, Odessa, Oldsmar, Palm Harbor, Clearwater, Pinellas Park, Largo, St. Petersburg, and throughout the greater Tampa Bay area.