Why Do I Have to Hire a Bankruptcy Attorney? Can I Just Use the Blank Forms Myself? – Ave

“Dear Lewis,

$25K in debt, not behind in credit card payments
$314K mortgage, not behind in payments
Outstanding medical in collections $3,000
Filing for S.S.I. disability
Currently unemployed due to disability
Can’t afford credit card payments any longer
Daughter rents home & pays half the mortgage

Why do I have to hire a bankruptcy attorney, can’t I use those forms at the office supply store and do it myself? I’m only intending to file bankruptcy for my credit card debt and medical expense, not my mortgage?


Dear Ave,

Your question basically answers the question as to why it is better, in almost all cases, to hire a bankruptcy attorney.

Let me explain. Your question itself contains a common misconception about bankruptcy. That you “only want to file bankruptcy on the credit card and medical debts, and not the mortgage”.

That is not how bankruptcy works. You must list ALL of your debts. Even the debts you want to keep like your mortgage. Assuming you are filing a chapter 7, you would then state your intention of keeping your home on the bankruptcy petition.

I won’t get into a discussion about reaffirming your mortgage. (I generally think it is a bad idea).

Since I don’t know what state you live in, I don’t know what sort of exemption you have to cover any equity you may have in your home. Or covering any other assets you may have.

So for argument sake, this is how an unrepresented person could get hurt in bankruptcy. The person’s state only has a $15,000 homestead exemption. You have $50,000 equity in the home. You don’t list the home on your petition “because you aren’t filing bankruptcy on it”. Then the chapter 7 trustee liquidates the house before you know what happens (because you didn’t protect it properly in bankruptcy).

This scenario is extreme, but highlights the importance of competent attorney representation.

It is very important that you talk to someone to make sure that you can properly exempt your assets, as best as possible under the bankruptcy laws/exemptions in your state.

You can click here to find a local bankruptcy attorney in your state.

My name is Lewis Roberts and I’m an attorney licensed in Florida and Georgia. My practice focus is consumer bankruptcy, real estate issues/closings, and mortgages. I also have Florida real estate broker and mortgage broker licenses. I am a proud member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA), National Association of Consumer Attorneys (NACA), and a graduate of Max Gardner’s Bankruptcy Boot Camp. I enjoy helping people with decisions that impact their financial well-being.

Legal Disclaimer: This is for educational purposes only. It is not to be relied upon as legal advice. It also does not create an attorney-client relationship. No such relationship is formed with attorney without a written agreement.

If you have a bankruptcy question you’d like to ask just use the online form.

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