How do I File Bankruptcy Pro Se?

Filing for bankruptcy pro se, which means without a lawyer, can be complex but allows a debtor to save on attorney’s fees. To get started, you may do well to learn the bankruptcy laws that apply in your jurisdiction. You may be required to participate in credit counseling before you can file, and you will likely need to gather a range of documents before you get started, including six months' worth of pay stubs, a list of your assets, and a list of your creditors. After learning the bankruptcy laws that apply in your area and completing credit counseling, you’ll typically have to submit a voluntary bankruptcy petition, supporting documents, and a filing fee to the local bankruptcy court. In many jurisdictions, however, you can only file pro se if you are an individual; a business may have to seek the help of an attorney.

If you want to file for bankruptcy pro se, your first step may be learning the bankruptcy laws in your jurisdiction. Bankruptcy laws may vary from place to place, so you may do well to learn the rules for filing bankruptcy, the procedure for filing, and the fees you'll have to pay before you get started. As you are researching the laws in your area, you may also discover which forms you’ll need and how you can obtain them.

In some jurisdictions, laws require debtors to participate in credit counseling before they file for bankruptcy. If this is the case in your area, you’ll likely need to complete credit counseling within the 180-day period before you file bankruptcy pro se. Even if credit counseling is not required, you may decide to participate in credit counseling anyway. You may, for example, use it as an opportunity to decide whether bankruptcy is really the best option and how to avoid debt troubles after you complete the bankruptcy process.

Once you’ve decided to proceed with filing bankruptcy pro se and have finished credit counseling, you may then locate the local bankruptcy court and proceed with filing. You’ll typically need to file a voluntary bankruptcy petition and pay the required fee. Depending on the laws in your jurisdiction, you may have to attach some required documents to your petition. For example, many jurisdictions require petitioners to attach proof of income that dates back for six months, copies of tax documents, and proof of the completion of credit counseling.


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