Will You Need a Lawyer to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Most people don’t need to hire a lawyer to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. For the vast majority of filers, there’s no court appearance before a judge and no legal advocacy needed. That’s good news, because since 2005, when changes to the bankruptcy law made things more complicated, attorney fees for bankruptcies have doubled in most parts of the country. As a result, people are doing their own bankruptcies in ever greater numbers.

You will, however, need some guidance. You can probably find what you need from good do-it-yourself books and websites. Some bankruptcy court websites are also very helpful. (See our article on bankruptcy-related books and Nolo's Bankruptcy Center.)

In some states (mostly in the West), paralegals called bank­ruptcy petition preparers by the federal bankruptcy law will do your paperwork for a reasonable fee under your direction and control. (See our articles on getting help from lawyers and bankruptcy petition preparers if you decide to file for bankruptcy.)

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