Although most people who file bankruptcy hire a lawyer to help them, you're not required to have a lawyer represent you. You can do it yourself, if you're willing to put in the time to research and do your homework. If you are thinking about filing a bankruptcy without the help of an attorney, gather your resources so that you will have the best chance of seeing the case through successfully. Resources may include the advice of an attorney, an accountant or someone else knowledgeable about the process, online resources, books and other sources of information.
Here are some resources to get you started.
Free Attorney Advice
First and foremost, your best resource will be a consumer bankruptcy attorney in your jurisdiction.
But wait, aren't we talking here about how to file a bankruptcy case without an attorney? Yes, but that doesn't mean you can't get some advice, often free, from an attorney or other knowledgeable professional.
If it happens that you decide that you really need some help either filing your case or managing it once it is filed, I highly recommend that you visit the website for the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. There you can find the names and contact information for attorneys who specialize in helping people in your situation. Many, if not most, will offer you a free initial consultation to determine what you need and how they can help you. You have nothing to lose by visiting one or more of these highly experienced and knowledgeable attorneys, but you may have a lot to lose if you don’t.
If Cost is an Issue
No doubt, you’ve considered the cost of filing a bankruptcy case. Please check out resources listed in the articles linked below before you make a final decision to go it alone. If your income is very low, you may qualify for help from your loan Legal Services Corporation affiliated firm or from the Legal Aid Society. Local bar associations often keep lists of attorneys willing to work for a reduced rate or even free for low income individuals. You may find that you qualify for low or no-cost attorney services, or that you may be able to afford to hire an attorney after all. Remember, most consumer bankruptcy attorneys will offer you a free consultation. They can also help you figure out how to afford to file bankruptcy.
General Resources and Information
Legal help site Nolo.com is an excellent site for information about all kinds of legal issues of interest to consumers, including bankruptcy.
Each bankruptcy court will have information for pro se filers on its website. You can access information about each of the bankruptcy courts, including where to file your case.
The Official Forms are available for free on the website of the Administrative Office of the US Courts. See the list here: Official Bankruptcy Forms. Note that many of these forms are new as of November 1, 2015. Forms used before that date are no longer valid and should not be used.
There are other websites that make the forms available for a price or use a database that may make it a bit easier to fill out the forms. No endorsements here, but you can check these out for yourself:
Bankruptcy Petition Preparers:
A bankruptcy petition preparer is a person or a service that takes the information you provide and puts in on the bankruptcy paperwork under your direction. Of course, they do this for a fee. The preparer is not allowed to give you any legal advice whatsoever. They can do little more than just type the information you provide onto the forms. So, do not expect any expertise for your $200. To learn more about bankruptcy petition preparers and what they do, see
Beware of the Bankruptcy Petition Preparer
If you would like a little bit more in depth guidance on how to go about filing a bankruptcy case on your own, these books might be helpful. Again, no endorsements: "Chapter 13 Bankruptcy," "How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy."
For more things to think about if you are considering filing bankruptcy on your own, see
Updated by Carron Nicks June 2018