How do I file for bankruptcy and get free representation?

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How do I file for bankruptcy and get free representation?

I am on SSI and have bills that I can’t pay.

Asked on March 6, 2014 under Bankruptcy Law, California

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Bankruptcy laws help people who can no longer pay their creditors get a fresh start – by liquidating assets to pay their debts or by creating a repayment plan. Bankruptcy laws also protect troubled businesses and provide for orderly distributions to business creditors through reorganization or liquidation.

 

Most cases are filed under the three main chapters of the Bankruptcy Code – Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13. Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases. This means that a bankruptcy case cannot be filed in a state court.

I suggest that you contact your local federal bankruptcy court and ask for an appointment with a counselor there.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Based on the limited facts presented I will assume that you will be filing for Chapter 7. If you need to file and money is an issue for you, you should know that some bankruptcy attorneys offer payment plans (although they will not file the case until all of their fees are paid in full). You can also contact your local legal aid society to find out whether it offers assistance or see if there is a law school near you that runs a free/low cost legal clinic that will handle your case. Also, your state/county bar association may have an attorney referral service to find attorneys who provide pro bono (free) services to low income debtors. Finally, you could file for bankruptcy on yourself; legally, you do not have to have a lawyer do it. The bankruptcy court has forms online and, if you qualify, you may be able to have some filings fees waived. Additionally, some bankruptcy courts run free seminars which instruct debtors on how they can file on their own. However, this can be confusing and time-consuming but it is still an option for you.

What you may want to do now is to speak with a bankruptcy attorney. Even if you don't hire them to handle your case, for the cost of an hour or so of their time, you can at least go over the details of your situation and see what they recommend as your best course of action.

 


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