Do you need an attorney to file bankruptcy?

Many clients may wonder if you can file for bankruptcy without an attorney. The answer is yes with a but. It is theoretically possible to navigate oneself from the filing of a bankruptcy petition through the hearing with the trustee and ultimately to the discharge order issued by the Bankruptcy Court. However, there are many things that are difficult to know as a debtor filing for bankruptcy for the first time that you would learn if you use a bankruptcy attorney to help you. For example, as a debtor in bankruptcy, you are obligated to list all assets that you have on your bankruptcy schedules. This does not mean that you are going to lose these assets. In most situations, you can claim all of what you own as exempt from administration by the bankruptcy estate. However, you have to claim the correct exemptions against your assets. One of those assets is your tax refund. Even if you haven't received your tax refund yet, the bankruptcy estate can take an interest in a portion of the tax refund for this year, even though the return isn't due to be filed yet. There are also requirements to provide the trustee assigned to your case with various documents to confirm your ownership in your various assets as well as proof of your income in the form of pay stubs and tax returns. These are just a couple of examples of things that may be foreign to someone encountering the bankruptcy system for the first time but would be common knowledge to an experienced bankruptcy attorney that has helped numerous clients through this process successfully. Think of a bankruptcy attorney as a trail guide through a dangerous forest. You might be able to make it though on your own, but if you have someone available to tell you what paths to take, where the predators are likely to hang out and the best times to make the journey, it's probably worth it to hire that trail guide. The peace of mind is worth it!
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