Ways & How

how to file for bankruptcy yourself

how to file for bankruptcy yourself

Perhaps filing for bankruptcy is one of the most difficult situations you will ever face. Questions like, "How difficult it is to file for bankruptcy?", "How much will I spend until the case is concluded?" and "Which type of bankruptcy should I file?" are likely to come up. You will find the whole process a little difficult, especially if you don’t know how to file for bankruptcy yourself. Remember, only individual debtors are allowed by law to file for bankruptcy without the aid of a lawyer or pro se. Therefore, corporations, partnerships, and other business companies can only file for bankruptcy with a bankruptcy lawyer. You may consider engaging the services of a lawyer since a bankruptcy case necessarily involves legal procedures, legal papers, and court rules that must be strictly followed. At any rate, the law allows you to proceed by yourself. To proceed properly, just follow the steps below.

  1. Obtain bankruptcy forms. This is the easiest step since you can just go to the local court and ask for the forms or simply download them for free at http://www.

    scourts.gov/. Ask the court personnel if you have all the copies needed to file for Bankruptcy. Filling out the forms can be a little harder since you haven’t tried doing it before. If there is anything unclear to you, try calling the local court.

  2. Gather your financial data. Secure a recent copy of your bills (from your creditors, credit cards, car loan, etc.) as well as your proof of income for the past 6 months to 1 year. Paychecks are not the only data required, but include also your child support or alimony, contract job, or any legal source of income. Never attempt to "forget" anything, because the court can charge you for perjury if they find out that you are trying to hide something or mislead the court.

  3. Decide whether to file for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy. On one hand, Chapter 7 is usually availed of by those individual debtors who have lost their regular jobs and are behind in paying for their debts. On the other hand, Chapter 13 can be utilized if you still have your job and are really trying to make good on your debts, but you just can't meet your obligations as they fall due. Since Chapter 13 involves the creation of a repayment plan, this may be the best alternative for you if you have a number of assets, such as a house that you don’t want to give up.

  4. Comply with the Means Test. This test is also called a debt to income eligibility exam. Taking the test will determine whether or not you are qualified to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and whether or not you have sufficient means to pay for your debts. For easy calculation, make use of an online Means Test calculator.

    First, collate your income. If your total income is less than or equal to the median income established in your state, that means you are qualified for Chapter 7; if it is more than the median income, then you need to pass the Means Test, wherein your net income is subtracted. If the end result is below $100, you pass the exam; if it is over $100 but below $166.66, you have to pay a portion of your debts; if it is over $166.66, you are disqualified to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

  5. Sign the papers for submission. If you have employed someone to prepare and accomplish the papers, that person must also sign the papers. Print your names, your address, and social security numbers. Remember, only you can pay for the court fees. This means that if you hired a lawyer or paralegal, they cannot ask any amount from you to pay for the court dockets.

  6. Be present during the creditors' meeting. During the meeting, expect your creditors to object to your petition or they may request some more information. However, if you are sure that you have given to the court all the requirements needed, the meeting may take only a short period of time. Thereafter, the presiding judge will assess the propriety and merits of your petition for discharge.

  7. Wait for the discharge. A certificate will be sent to you about the discharge of your debts. If you have filed for Chapter 13 and you incorporated some of your assets, like your car, there is a chance that you can keep them. In effect, you have protected your car from being seized. This is now your chance to start anew and build your finances in a more stable way.

Now that you know how to file for bankruptcy yourself, you should reconsider if bankruptcy is really your last option. If engaging the services of a bankruptcy lawyer is not possible due to budgetary constraint, you might want to consider hiring a paralegal. A paralegal can greatly help you to prepare your petition at a minimal fee, usually less than $300.


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