Thomas F. Miles, Attorney and Counselor at Law
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Do you need an attorney to file for bankruptcy?

Many California residents who are faced with seemingly insurmountable levels of debt will consider filing for personal bankruptcy. When researching the matter, it will become clear that individuals can file for bankruptcy on their own, without the services of an attorney. This may seem an attractive option for many, and the prospect of saving on legal fees may seem like a good course of action. In reality, however, many who choose this path end up in worse financial shape than when they began the process.

This is due to the fact the simply filing for personal bankruptcy does not guarantee that the process will be successful. In fact, a report from Central California's U.S. Bankruptcy Court stated that only 60.9 percent of bankruptcy cases filed by individuals led to the successful discharge of personal debt. That is compared to the 94.5 percent success rate of cases filed by bankruptcy attorneys.

The laws that govern personal bankruptcy are incredibly complex. Mistakes and errors are not tolerated, and there are a number of ways that an improperly filed document can lead the court to dismiss one's filing. Not only do the proper forms need to be used, but individuals must be careful to list each and every asset, as omissions can cause the entire case to be thrown out.

If an individual's bankruptcy is dismissed, he or she will be right back where they began, with a heavy load of debt and ne relief in sight. Even worse, the time and effort spent on trying to file the for bankruptcy on one's own will have been wasted. Many of these California residents will eventually end up hiring an attorney to properly file for bankruptcy, but in doing so will have delayed the relief that comes with a successfully discharged bankruptcy.

Source: Investopedia, "How to Hire a Bankruptcy Lawyer", Michelle Ullman, Sept. 12, 2014

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