Can you file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Yourself?
You are afraid to answer the phone. The creditors are hounding you night and day calling you at work and your relatives. The bank is threatening to foreclose on your house. You cannot sleep. You do not even have the money to hire a lawyer to file for bankruptcy. Can you do it yourself?
The answer is sort of. There are some fees involved that you cannot avoid but they are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things. The biggest cost is your time and effort. Hopefully you have the time. Events will still proceed while you are attempting to file Chapter 7 and you may be too late to stop them.
The Means Test
Simply put, do you even qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing? In the state of California, the official government means test is located here. These are all the official rules that you must follow. If you do not qualify, then it does not matter. You need a different solution. If you do qualify, we can go on to the next step. This is free.
Get Your 3 Credit Reports (Almost Free!)
Ok, it is very important for you to get all 3 of your credit reports. Because if you do not include all your debts in the filing any unreported debt will not be cleared. It will be there to keep haunting you. This is not the time to get sloppy. This may cost you money, you may be able to get 2 reports free, but getting all 3 might cost you $59-$129.
Get Credit Counseling
A Credit Management and Financial Literacy Course is required by law. The Justice Department has a list of authorized course providers found here. If you do not do the course you will not get a Chapter 7. This will cost you some money.
Download The California Chapter 7 Petition Forms.
While there are a lot of places where you can go to get the forms to file for filing Chapter 7 in California, the forms are available to download for free from the state site. This is where the sweat and tears will come in: the forms are complicated and long. You will spend many hours filling out intricate and ever repeating forms. You can hire an experienced bankruptcy attorney to help you file it just right.
Once the forms are complete you must file them either in person or by mail. Be aware that you absolutely must reply to any communications from the court promptly. Failure to do so may cause the case to be dismissed without any further warning.
Meeting With The Creditors.
There will be a meeting with the creditors set up. It is absolutely required that you attend. Your creditors may not even show but the trustee will be there. They will ask you questions that you must answer truthfully and then if no creditors have any input the meeting will end. The waiting game will then commence. Some time later the trustee will inform you by mail of the decision of the Chapter 7 filing. If you won you will have at least some relief from your debt. Now you may be able to get some sleep.
Personal Financial Management Instruction Course
Now you are required to take a Financial Management Instruction Course within 45 days after the finalizing of the meeting with the creditors. The Justice Department again has a list of approved courses. The list is here. Again this is not free.
So as you can see you can do a Chapter 7 filing for almost free. Though the filing fee at court can have a fee waiver applied for. This is the cheapest way when cash is tight as long as you don’t count your time as money.
Unless you absolutely cannot afford an attorney to file your chapter 7 you can do it. You will be exhausted, stressed and wrung out. Your family will have suffered one of the worst times imaginable. An attorney can make this much easier and faster. Talk to us: (559) 264-4500
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