The cheapest way for an individual to file for bankruptcy is to file pro se. This means to do it all yourself without the help of a bankruptcy attorney. Just because you file bankruptcy on your own, it doesn’t mean that your bankruptcy will be free. Even though you don’t have the expense of an attorney you will still have to pay $299 in fees to the bankruptcy court. These fees must be paid before the filing, unless you file for a fee waiver or a payment plan. Even with a payment plan the debtor will have to pay the court fees in full before they get their discharge. Payment plans are easy to get for those filing chapter 7 but a fee waiver requires the debtor to see a bankruptcy judge and give an explanation as to why they feel they can’t afford the fee.
When filing bankruptcy pro se, the individual needs to spend some time learning the bankruptcy law, specifically for their state. In a bankruptcy filing, there are two types of exemptions, federal and state. The debtor filing should educate themselves on both so they can choose the best to benefit their financial situation. Those filing for bankruptcy should also be familiar with the bankruptcy forms and all other legal requirements for their district. The personal bankruptcy process can become tedious and very complex. If the laws aren’t followed perfectly the results could become disastrous. While filing bankruptcy on your own can be a noble attempt, it’s advisable to have some kind of professional assistance. If a bankruptcy attorney is not in the budget, a debtor should look for a paralegal experienced in bankruptcy law. Sometimes you can find a paralegal that moonlights on the side from their daytime job working at a law office. The downside to getting help from a paralegal is they cannot offer legal advice.
Before digging your heels in on the decision to file a do-it-yourself bankruptcy, you should have as many questions as possible answered. Many times, it’s a good idea to look for a bankruptcy attorney that will give you a free consultation prior to filing. These consultations will allow you to ask the attorney questions about your personal situation. After the consultation individuals can search the web for legal sites that have a lot of good information about bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court for each state has its own website with all the forms, available by download, to file a personal bankruptcy. Some of the websites even offer information on what’s required for that district.
A do-it-yourself bankruptcy filing helps people learn about their finances and the bankruptcy law. If a person decides that they feel they have the confidence to go it alone, they should consider finding a bankruptcy attorney that will review the personal bankruptcy petition before the actual filing with the court. Some attorneys will do a review and charge the client 1 to 2 hours for the service. This way you’ll know prior to going to court that your bankruptcy petition has been properly filled out and calculated. The bankruptcy process can be daunting, so it’s very important that an individual filing for bankruptcy does their homework because their financial future is on the line.