Is it Advisable to File for Bankruptcy Without Retaining an Attorney?

Should people try to do this on their own or should they always hire a Chester County bankruptcy attorney? I mean, how hard is it to file bankruptcy on your own and how risky is it?

Being perfectly candid, I think a bankruptcy would be a very difficult proposition and a very risky proposition for someone who doesn’t practice to undertake–not only a layperson but also an attorney who doesn’t practice bankruptcy regularly.

Mistakes Can Be Critical to a Successful Filing

The reason being and a big consideration for people is, once you become part of the bankruptcy process, for example, if you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and you’ve made some sort of error. For example, you maybe underestimated the value of your home dramatically because maybe you based on a tax assessment, rather than the fair market value or you didn’t realize that your inheritance or your pending inheritance was not an exempt asset. You can’t just withdraw your bankruptcy. That asset now becomes part of the bankruptcy estate and you’re subject to losing it. You can’t just say, “Let’s have a do-over.” It doesn’t work that way.

Retain An Experienced Bankruptcy Attorney

So, to me, one of the riskiest things that a potential bankruptcy filer could do would be to not only do it by themselves but to use an attorney that doesn’t do a lot of it, because an error in bankruptcy can be absolutely critical.

It can force the sale of property, and you can’t just back out. You can’t just withdraw–only in rare circumstances, are you allowed to voluntarily withdraw your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If there is an asset, you can’t withdraw it without bankruptcy court approval. It’s only really rare circumstances where bankruptcy courts will allow a case to be withdrawn in Chapter 7.

Bankruptcies can be complicated and technical areas of the law. As much as I’ve done it, for 26 years now, there are always new issues that arise. There are always new statutes that I’m reading about, ones that you don’t even necessarily consider. It is an area of the law that’s constantly evolving, I think, as compared to other areas of the law. And just as importantly, as you suggested, the consequences of making a mistake in bankruptcy are so much greater than, I think, most areas of the law. A mistake can really result in you losing assets, losing your home, losing other potential assets that you never expected would be at risk.

That’s why I put more emphasis on the initial meeting I know there are some attorneys who just simply hand someone a packet and ask them to complete the questions and bring it back with them. To me, by far, the most important aspect of representing someone is the initial consultation because that’s where you really have to delve into what’s appropriate, what isn’t and why.

I really think that’s where there are mistakes made by attorneys. It’s that they don’t use that time to adequately assess what is significant and what isn’t and what planning devices can be used to help make someone qualify for Chapter 7, who wouldn’t qualify today, certain other things like that.

Related Articles

The Bankruptcy Process

Many people live paycheck-to-paycheck or have minimal savings. These circumstances mean that even a small financial setback could result in a crisis. When you cannot pay your utility bills, mortgage, […]

Read More »

How Bankruptcy Can Protect You

Filing for bankruptcy is often thought of as a sign of failure. At best, it is seen as a last resort when faced with too many bills, collection letters, or […]

Read More »

Means Testing in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy has many layers. Before filing, a potential debtor will have to gather their bills, bank statements, tax returns, and proof of all household income for the previous six months. […]

Read More »

Have an Attorney Review Your Case for Free

Get a Free Case Evaluation

Contact Our Attorneys To Learn How We Can Help Your Case


12 Convenient Locations Across Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Philadelphia, PA

7909 Bustletown Ave, 1st Floor Philadelphia, PA 19152 (215) 607-7478 Get Directions

Quakertown, PA

328 Broad St. Quakertown, PA 18951 (215) 515-6876 Get Directions

Allentown, PA

137 N 5th St. Suite A Allentown, PA 18102 (215) 240-4082 Get Directions

Jenkintown, PA

135 Old York Road Jenkintown, PA 19046 (215) 544-3347 Get Directions

Easton, PA

101 Larry Holmes Dr. #212 Easton, PA 18042 (215) 515-7077 Get Directions

Bala Cynwyd, PA

2 Bala Plaza, Suite 300 Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 (610) 557-3209 Get Directions

Bensalem, PA

3554 Hulmeville Rd, #102 Bensalem, PA 19020 (215) 515-6389 Get Directions

Plymouth Meeting, PA

600 W. Germantown Pike #400 Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462 (215) 515-6876 Get Directions

Harrisburg, PA

2225 Sycamore St Harrisburg, PA 17111 (717) 864-8887 Get Directions

Cinnaminson, NJ

909 Route 130 South #202 Cinnaminson, NJ 08077 (609) 796-4344 Get Directions

Hamilton Twp., NJ

100 Horizon Center Blvd., 1st and 2nd Floors Hamilton Township, NJ 08691 (609) 236-8649 Get Directions

Marlton, NJ

10000 Lincoln Drive E One Greentree Centre, Suite 201 Marlton, NJ 08053 (856) 213-2805 Get Directions

Piscataway, NJ

200 Centennial Ave. Suite 200 Piscataway, NJ 08854 (908) 367-7256 Get Directions