What to do if we want to file Chapter 7 on our own?

We know this can be done, but we have a few questions. The forms – We downloaded the forms from the gov website, however our full names will not fit on all forms. Is it okay to leave off the middle initial of our names on the forms that we run out of room on? If we do it will fit. The pdf file will only allow us to type so many letters on certain forms. Do we need copies of every bill we owe, or will the account number and amount owed be enough. I have gathered the addresses, phone number, account number, and amount owed for each debt. Also, do I need the dates for each debt ( when it was obtained or when collections received it?Please help!

Asked on October 10, 2013 under Bankruptcy Law, Illinois


Terence Fenelon / Law Offices of Terence Fenelon

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

First off, let me say that you can file a case without legal assistance.  You can also pull a tooth without a dentist.  It might hurt a lot more, not to mention bleeding and infection, but, that's the risk you take.

The middle initial should be inserted.  Look for a diferent PDF format which is expandable and will meet your formatting need.

You do not need your statements unless the trustee requests them, which, if you are filing pro se, is likely.  Have them avaiable.  On the schedules, list the pertinent information and the date the debt was incurred, not turned over for collection.  If you have accounts in collections, list the collection company AND the original creditor.  Otherwise, the original creditor is likely to hire another collection company to pursue the debt, sometimes months after the case is completed.  Since they were never notified, they will not be bound by the discharge, assuning you get one.

Exemptions are a nightmare for pro se debtors. Study the statutes of the state in which you reside to determine how to apply them.. Failure to do so could result in the loss of property which otherwise would have been protected.

Make sure you are familiar with local court rules regarding the submission of tax returns and pay advices to the trustee.  Failure to comply could result in a case dismissal. Finally, don't forget about the counseling and financial management certificates required.

Good luck!  Perhaps you can obtain advice from a local bar association or pro bono counseling service established in your district.


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