You can file Chapter 13 bankruptcy without the help of an attorney.
Summary: There is no law or regulation requiring you to retain the services of an attorney when filing for bankruptcy. This means you have the option to file bankruptcy without a lawyer. This article provides insights and guidance on how to file Chapter 13 without an attorney. Remember, you got this.
If you are struggling with a proverbial mountain of debt and are falling behind on monthly payments to the point where you are being hounded by creditors and/or debt collectors, it may make sense to consider filing for bankruptcy (depending on your unique circumstances).
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you may be asking yourself, “do I need to hire a lawyer?” The answer is no. You do not need to hire an attorney to file for bankruptcy. You have the option to represent yourself and file pro se. The article offers insights and guidance on how to file Chapter 13 without an attorney.
Consider debt settlement before filing for bankruptcy.
When it comes to filing for bankruptcy, individuals typically decide between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
For context, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the “Coke Classic” of bankruptcy. It entails turning over your assets to a trustee who will sell (also known as liquidate) your assets and non-exempt properties in an effort to reimburse your creditors. In exchange, you get a clean financial slate with a majority of your debt written off.
However, not everyone wants to give up all of their assets. In addition, only certain individuals who meet a “means” test qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The means test calculation for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a determining factor for whether your income is sufficiently low enough to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In other words, failing the means test means you are ineligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
This where Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be more appealing.
How does Chapter 13 bankruptcy work?
A good way to think of Chapter 13 bankruptcy is an opportunity to audit and reorganize your finances. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the bankruptcy option for individuals who make too much money to pass the Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test.
One of the most apparent distinctions between Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that your debt does not get wiped away in Chapter 13 proceedings. Instead, you negotiate a repayment plan for all, or a portion, of your debt. In most instances, creditors (and the judge overseeing the Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings) will accept a negotiated repayment plan that spans between three and five years.
Another notable distinction between Chapter 13 bankruptcy and Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that you get to retain your assets in Chapter 13. This is appealing since it avoids the embarrassment and inconvenience associated with having your vehicle repossessed and your home foreclosed upon.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of Chapter 13 bankruptcy, let’s discuss how to actually file for it.
Wondering if you're eligible for bankruptcy? Check here.
How to file for chapter 13 bankruptcy without an attorney
Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy without an attorney can be complicated, and it is important to understand all the steps and filing requirements necessary to complete the process.
There are a number of critically-important steps you need to take before even filling out a bankruptcy form. For example, you need to analyze your debt and income and take a mandatory bankruptcy pre-filing course. Once you’ve checked off these action items, you can move forward with the following steps to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy:
File a formal petition for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The petition must include the rationale for filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a list of all your assets and liabilities, a statement of financial affairs, copies of tax returns, and payment for the filing fee.
Appoint a trustee who will manage your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.
Have the court enter a “stay of debt collection” prohibiting creditors from seeking to collect on your debts once the creditor is notified of the stay order.
File a proposed repayment plan taking into account priority claims (e.g., delinquent taxes), secured claims (e.g., student loan debt), and unsecured claims (e.g., credit card debt).
Attend your confirmation hearing. During the hearing, the bankruptcy court will take time to respond to any objections raised by your creditors, who will meet at some point between 21 and 50 days after you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Once any objections are resolved, the court will typically approve a final repayment plan.
Commence making payments within 30 days of filing for bankruptcy.
If you adhere to the approved repayment plan, a percentage of your debts will be discharged.
These steps can help you get started with the filing process for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The United States Courts provide bankruptcy forms to make the process even easier.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can help discharge a judgment in a debt collection lawsuit
If a creditor files a debt collection lawsuit against you and secures a favorable judgment, it will mean they have the legal authority to garnish your wages, place a lien (or liens) on your property (or properties), or even access assets in your bank accounts. However, if you decide to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it can help stop the enforcement of the creditor’s judgment, even only temporarily.
As mentioned earlier, if you decide to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the judge overseeing your case will typically issue a stay order. Once the stay order goes into effect, you will be legally protected, automatically, from your creditors. Your debt will remain in a holding pattern, which means a credit is legally prohibited from contacting you, sending any threatening letters, and/or filing a debt collection lawsuit. If there is a pending debt collection lawsuit, that legal action will be suspended. If any of your creditors violate the automatic stay order, you have the option to file contempt against them and make them pay for the fine and damages.
Use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit
If you’re struggling with debt, chances are you don’t have extra money laying around to hire an attorney to represent you in a debt collection lawsuit. Luckily, SoloSuit can help you respond to a debt case without the help of a lawyer and increase your chances of winning by 7x.
Watch this video to learn more:
There is no law or regulation requiring you to retain the services of an attorney when filing for bankruptcy, which means you can file bankruptcy without the help of a lawyer. Here are some key takeaways from our discussion on how to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy without a lawyer:
Filing for bankruptcy is a major life decision that warrants significant research and due diligence to properly weigh the pros and cons of moving forward, especially if you decide to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy without an attorney.
The process of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy entails multiple steps, significant amounts of paperwork, and strict filing deadlines. This means proper preparation is essential in order to successfully reach the finish line.
There are different types of bankruptcy filings to consider. The two most common types of bankruptcy filings utilized by consumers include Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is effectively a form of financial reorganization. When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are able to retain your assets (e.g., your home, automobile, etc.) in exchange for making monthly payments towards paying off your debt balance within 60 months (to avoid paying penalties, interests, and fees).
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt lawsuit without a lawyer.
You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.
SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.
And 50% of our customers' cases have been dismissed in the past.
"Finding yourself on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly is kinda scary. I started researching on YouTube and found SoloSuit's channel. The videos were so helpful, easy to understand and encouraging. When I reached out to SoloSuit they were on it. Very professional, impeccably prompt. Thanks for the service!" - Heather