Ways & How

How to File for Bankruptcy without a Lawyer

How to File for Bankruptcy without a Lawyer

It is possible to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy even without the presence of a lawyer. Although it might involve a lot of legwork, the plus side is that you can save a lot of money if you don’t have to pay for the services of a lawyer. After all, even if you have a lawyer, you will still need to go through all the steps of filing for bankruptcy by yourself. Lawyers will only provide you guidance, but they are not necessary to file for bankruptcy. If you want to do it yourself, here are the steps on how to file for bankruptcy without a lawyer:

  1. You first need to figure out whether or not you are qualified to file for bankruptcy. In order to do this, you need to take the Means Test, which the government provides to determine if you have the means to pay your debts. You can do this in two ways—first is through the form provided by the federal government and second is through the simplified Means Test online. If you qualify, then you can file for bankruptcy under chapter 7. On the other hand, if you don’t qualify, then you can still file for bankruptcy but under chapter 13 or debt consolidation.


  2. Make sure that you have a copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus. Not all of your creditors report to all three bureaus, so you need to ask them for copies to get your complete credit reports. In addition, you will need the addresses of your creditors to fill out your bankruptcy forms. You should also gather all your creditor statements, collection statements and letters, and other outstanding payments.

  3. You need to attend a mandatory credit counseling course, which can be completed online in about two to three hours. It costs only around $30 and is necessary before you can file bankruptcy paperwork. After completing the course, you will receive a Certificate of Completion, which you need to include in your file for bankruptcy.

  4. Find out the federal court jurisdiction you are under to determine where you are going to file your paperwork. You can find it online, together with the bankruptcy forms package, which you need to download. Make sure that you have the right bankruptcy forms package by calling your local bankruptcy court and confirming with them if you have the right forms. It is best to walk in and pick up the forms so that you can ask any questions you have.

  5. Complete all the paperwork. This can take a lot of time, and it might be better if you buy bankruptcy software for assistance. The software will help you avoid problems in regard to calculations and truncated data. You might also notice that there are forms that do not apply to you, but never make the mistake of removing these forms. Just put “Not Applicable” or “NA” if you encounter them.

  6. Once you have completed all the paperwork, file it along with your credit counseling completion certificate. Attach all the additional paperwork required, such as your tax return, pay stub, and list of bills owed. You might need to pay $299 if you did not apply for a bankruptcy fee waiver.

  7. Make sure that you respond to correspondences that your trustee or court sends you. Your bankruptcy trustee will probably ask for information about your recent bank statements, pay stubs, tax forms, and any real estate you own, so keep these on hand.

  8. Attend your Meeting of Creditors court date and be on time. Answer all the questions truthfully.

  9. Within 45 days of the Meeting of Creditors, you will need to complete your post-filing Personal Financial Management Instruction Course, which again costs around $30. You have to attend this or your case may be possibly dismissed. Submit your certificate of completion as instructed in your correspondence.

  10. At least 61 days after the Meeting of Creditors, you will be given a notice that your debts have been discharged. Just patiently wait for it.

After learning how to file for bankruptcy without a lawyer, you need to start practicing good financial management so that this will not happen to you again in the future. Enjoy the relief that being debt-free brings and start rebuilding your credit.


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