You don’t have to have a lawyer to file for bankruptcy. Instead, you can represent yourself, which is called filing “pro se.” However, representing yourself will require additional time, research, and could cost you more time and money in the event you make a mistake.

Risks of filing pro se

For instance, if you don’t file correctly, have pre-bankruptcy considerations that impact your case, or forget certain documents, the court can dismiss your petition.

Additionally, you could lose assets. For instance, you may not be aware of exemptions for your current state, especially if the exemptions had recently changed. As a result, you could lose an asset that otherwise could have been protected.

Evaluate your situation

When making this decision, you’ll want to consider the complexity of your situation, the type of bankruptcy you’re filing, and your comfort level in completing the paperwork and conducting the necessary research. For instance, filing a straightforward, Chapter 7 bankruptcy where few to no assets are involved may be possible to conduct pro se.

However, more complicated forms of bankruptcy, like a complex Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 filing, are more likely to require the assistance of a lawyer. For instance, a Chapter 13 filing also requires you to create a proposed repayment plan, typically requiring specialized software.

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