In answer to the title question, yes, anyone can file their own bankruptcy. As long as you pay the filing fee of $335 for chapter 7, you can file. The real question is why you would be that foolish. Read on and find out why professional legal representation matters so much when it comes to your chapter 7 filing.

What About Bankruptcy Preparers?

In some locations, non-lawyers can set up shop and "help" filers prepare their forms. Those working at these businesses might have legal training or they might not. Almost anyone can print out blank forms and then file the completed forms for you. It's important to note, however, that these people are probably not lawyers, cannot provide legal advice, and won't help you when a problem comes up.

Preparing to File

The chapter 7 filing process begins months before you file in federal court. Lawyers understand the bankruptcy codes that allow the courts to look back over the past few months to identify certain financial issues that affect the filing. For example, filers who sell or give away property before they file might trigger a "take back". After examining your recent financial transactions, a lawyer might recommend that you delay a filing for a month or so to eliminate issues.

Chapter 7 or 13?

Filers may be confused about the difference between these two common consumer bankruptcy types. A bankruptcy lawyer can look over your situation and provide you with personalized advice on the merits and drawbacks of each type.

Understanding Exemptions

Exemptions are an important part of chapter 7 filings but they can be very confusing too. If you fail to take full advantage of an exemption, you could be placing your property in jeopardy of being seized by the bankruptcy courts. In some cases, filers can choose between federal or state exemptions or use the exemptions of a previous state of residency.

Creditor's Meeting Representation

This meeting is likely the only time you will appear in public concerning your bankruptcy filing and it's beneficial to have your lawyer present in case the unexpected happens. For example, a creditor could protest their inclusion in your bankruptcy for reasons of fraudulent activity.

Don't Waste the Filing Fee

Filing fees are non-refundable. If your file for bankruptcy and you have errors or omissions on your forms, you will have to pay the fee again when you correct them. Instead, speak to a chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer about your case so you can get the help, support, and advice you need.