Do I need to have an attorney to file bankruptcy?
"I’ve seen ads for bankruptcy preparers and paralegals, and DIY bankruptcy kits."
The short answer is not really an answer, but another question. Do you need legal advice? If the answer is yes, then you do need a lawyer. I caution people against using a bankruptcy preparer because of one big reason – by federal law, bankruptcy preparers are not allowed to offer legal advice. By law, they cannot do anything except to prepare (as in type) your filing and charge a reasonable fee. Furthermore, despite the title, a paralegal is not a lawyer – and that comes right from the American Bar Association. They can’t represent someone in court or offer legal advice, only an actual lawyer can do that.
Now, as to the DIY “kits” – usually forms and a bare-bones instruction book - and software that’s out there purporting to be an alternative to filing your bankruptcy. Even if your robolawyer is this guy, I don’t think it’s going to work. I also have no idea of what kind of legal boondoggles would arise out of admitting an artificial intelligence to the state or federal bar, but until one takes the bar exam or tries to argue in court, it’s a moot point. As of now, there is no kit or TurboTax type bankruptcy preparer that can give legal advice.
That’s it, that’s all, put up the chairs, turn out the lights, and go home.
If you are still thinking about it, then I have some links for you. These go to the US Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Florida, where you will need to fill out and study –
- Local bankruptcy forms.
- Mortgage Modification Mediation forms.
- Don’t forget to read up on the administrative orders.
- And the local rules, too.
- Then there’s the US Courts forms.
- Brush up on the federal bankruptcy code.
- And crack some more books on the federal rules.
Is your head spinning? Mine isn’t, and that’s because I am a bankruptcy attorney, and I can (and do) do this all day. This is a specialty practice for a reason, and even a so-called simple Chapter 7 takes a lot of knowledge not typically available to the layperson.
To sum it up
If you want the best possible advice and the best possible outcome, you do need an attorney with you from start to finish. We’re not going to turn you away if you’ve made a failed filing, we can help turn it around and make a successful filing that is going to hold up in court. We’re so dedicated that we are open seven days a week and offer a free initial consultation at our West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale offices. Call us and we can get started on getting you to where you want and need to be in terms of bankruptcy, debt, and other legal issues.