Do you need an attorney to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Arizona?

No. When my youngest son’s baby tooth was just hanging there, I gave it a little tug and it came out without the assistance of a dentist. Now that his other tooth is a little bit crooked, using some pliers to straighten it out is not an option – he will need a dentist. I am not saying that preparing a bankruptcy is the same as straightening my son’s tooth. I am saying that there are simply some things in life that we cannot do effectively without the assistance of someone with experience.

While all the forms to fill out a bankruptcy petition and schedules are available on-line and free to anyone looking for them, filling out the bankruptcy paperwork is not just filling out forms. There are many considerations and decisions to take into account that can have a drastic impact on the success of a bankruptcy. Although there are document preparation firms out there that also will fill out your forms (they cannot charge you more than $200.00 to do so), they are not authorized to give you legal advice, so using them basically is saving you the time of typing out the paperwork and nothing more.

I am sure that there are cases out there that do not need the assistance of an attorney. The problem is recognizing whether your case can be simply done. Because making the determination as to whether to file a bankruptcy involves so many decisions and so much information, you need someone with experience to help guide you. Luckily, a simple consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney can help make that determination. Since many firms, including my own, offer free consultations, you really have nothing to lose. Conversely, if you file the wrong bankruptcy, you could end up with a bigger problem than what led you to file in the first place. In some cases, those errors can be irreversible, and you could end up stuck in the wrong bankruptcy and possibly losing what little assets you may have to creditor claims.

An ethical and experienced lawyer should be able to tell you if your case is a “simple” case and should charge you accordingly for his or her services, or tell you that you do not need his or her services. More often than not, an attorney should also be able to give you a good idea from the beginning  as to what it will cost you to file a bankruptcy. With the assistance of a free consultation as well as how much it would cost to file a bankruptcy, you can then make the decision if you are better off doing it on your own or asking for help. You should at least make the effort to find out your options before you file so you can end up with what is the stated goal of filing a bankruptcy: a fresh start.

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