You don’t have to use a bankruptcy attorney to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 in Utah. The law allows you to file as a pro se debtor, which means that you are representing yourself in the legal proceedings.
However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Filing for bankruptcy without the advice of a qualified attorney is a daunting task, and handling the matter yourself may not be in your best interest.
Simple Chapter 7 Cases Aren’t So Easy Without a Bankruptcy Attorney
Are you planning to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy? If yours is a simple case — you own little or no assets, have an income less than the state median and don’t have debts that are likely to be challenged by creditors — you may be able to obtain a discharge without an attorney.
However, even a simple Chapter 7 case will require a significant amount of time and effort on your part. You’ll be expected to be familiar with the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and to follow the rules and procedures of the federal and local courts. In addition, you’ll need to fill out the forms and schedules accurately and completely.
If you make a mistake at any point, you could put your discharge at risk. For that reason, filing for bankruptcy without an attorney is rarely a wise idea.
Complex Chapter 7 Issues May Require Bankruptcy Attorney Assistance
For complicated Chapter 7 cases, hiring a bankruptcy attorney is important, if you hope to achieve the best possible outcome.
If you own a business or a number of assets, have an income above the state median or have creditors that could claim fraud, filing as a pro se debtor comes with several potential risks.
Without a bankruptcy lawyer on your side, for example, your assets could be seized and sold to pay your creditors. Or the courts could dismiss your case. The financial risk is too great for most clients to attempt a complex Chapter 7 bankruptcy on their own.
A Bankruptcy Attorney Is a Must for Most Chapter 13 Cases
Chapter 13 bankruptcies are typically much more complicated and labor-intensive than any Chapter 7 case.
To receive court approval for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll need to come up with a creditor repayment plan — a difficult task without an attorney’s extensive knowledge of the law. Trying to cram down (reduce) your car loan or a strip off (recategorize as unsecured debt) a HELOC or second property mortgage as a pro se debtor is extremely difficult, as the additional paperwork is highly complex.
Because of the complexity of filing for Chapter 13 and the long-term legal and financial outcomes that could result, hiring a bankruptcy attorney is always recommended to ensure maximum protection.
The professional legal team at Lewis Adams and Associates offers free consultations to Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filers in Salt Lake City and throughout northern Utah. Contact our West Jordan office today to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.