While companies and agencies must hire an attorney to handle bankruptcy cases, individual people do not need to hire and attorney and may represent themselves in bankruptcy court if they choose to do so. While you can do this and it is legally okay to do, it is not always advisable since often people are not successful on their own. When deciding if you want representation or not, here are some things to consider.
It is essential that you make sure your bankruptcy case is handled appropriately and properly from the very beginning. These types of cases are often very technical, detailed and hard to navigate unless you are familiar with the jargon and laws. Any small, minor error or misstep could jeopardize your entire case or result in negative case results for you. If a required document is missing you may lose the right to file another case in the future. Since bankruptcy can have serious, long lasting results as well as financial and legal consequences, it is necessary that you handle these cases the right way the first time. It is not worth it to risk errors because you want to save money by handling the case on your own and without an attorney.
When working on your case, you will need to present any and all property and all debts that you currently owe to the court. If you are found to have left anything out or intentionally hiding or falsifying information, you could get yourself into some serious trouble. An attorney will explain this to you and go to extreme lengths to make sure all paperwork is presented and that all debts are accounted for in court to protect you. In addition, bankruptcy cases are often audited randomly, without notice. This is done to check the completeness of the records that you present in court to ensure accuracy and truthfulness.
While it may be tempting to represent yourself in order to save money, you re also entitled to free legal counsel as a United States citizen. Take advantage of these services to protect yourself in court. Even if you cannot afford to hire an attorney on yourself, you can get a state appointed professional to take charge of your case and lead your through the complicated legal system. This is your right and is something you should use so that you have an attorney advocating for you.
While you can legally choose to file for bankruptcy without an attorney and it is your right, it is not always the best or most wise decision to make. The average person does not have the knowledge, skill set or legal vocabulary needed to navigate the court system or the bankruptcy process without some help or guidance. If you can afford it, hiring an attorney such as Gentry, Arnold & Mitchell, PLLC is the best way to go. If you cannot afford private legal services, take advantage of free, public attorney services provided to all individuals. Working with a professional will help you to protect yourself both financially and legally so that you can be successful in court.