Should You File Bankruptcy Without a Lawyer?

You've probably realized by now that filing for bankruptcy can be a pretty complicated matter. Still, it's tempting to try to go through the process by yourself in order to save money. After all, if you're considering personal bankruptcy in the first place, you probably don't have much extra money to be spending on legal fees. With this in mind, should you try to file bankruptcy without a lawyer?

Absolutely not. Bankruptcy has become an even more complex subject in the last few years because of the changes that Congress has made to the bankruptcy code. The new bankruptcy law was meant to place additional hurdles for individuals trying to wipe out their debts. Even though declaring chapter seven is still an option for many people, the process itself has become more challenging.

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For example, among the recent changes is something called the means test. The purpose of this test is to try to determine whether you can actually pay off your bills. If your salary is lower than the median income for your state, then you don't even have to bother with taking this test. However, if your income is higher than the median, you'll be subjected to a more rigorous process before you are allowed to wipe out your debts.

You will have to prove that you are unable to pay by showing all your financial documents that describe your income and expenses. There are many technical details involved, and this is why you definitely need a lawyer by your side guiding you through the process.

You may hear from friends or family members that they successfully managed to declare personal bankruptcy without a lawyer. However, chances are that they went through the process a while back. Keep in mind that things have gotten much tougher since 2005 when Congress passed the bankruptcy reform act. Trying to navigate all the technical details of the bankruptcy code can be very difficult for a layperson. Even lawyers who specialize in bankruptcy have to work hard to keep up with all the latest developments and court rulings regarding personal bankruptcy.

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