Many people don’t realize that citizens are entitled to file certain paperwork with the court of their jurisdiction regardless of whether or not they choose to be represented by an attorney. The parties who represent themselves in legal proceedings are called pro se litigants.
While it is certainly possible to file for bankruptcy without an attorney, representing yourself in any legal proceeding is not an easy task. This explains why only just over 11% of all 2018 bankruptcy filings in Colorado were pro se. It also explains why the Colorado United States Bankruptcy Court has dedicated an entire section of its website to guide pro se filers.
Today, we are going over some of the basic, key factors that you will need to know if you are looking to file documents regarding your bankruptcy without an attorney.
- Decide if Pro Se Bankruptcy Filing is Right for You
Every financial situation is different. The same is true for bankruptcy. While the opportunity to avoid legal fees may be tempting, do-it-yourself bankruptcy filing is not for everyone. No matter how confident you are, there are certain factors that you should consider before you proceed (or continue) to represent yourself or file documents regarding your bankruptcy.
For example, the Colorado Bankruptcy Court suggests that you should consult an attorney before filing for bankruptcy if you are, for example, dealing with tax debts, worried about student loans, have any liens on your property, own a business, or have an asset or a pension plan that you do not wish to lose. These are just a few examples, but considering your situation is important – especially if you are filing an unconventional bankruptcy, such as a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which may involve more skill and expertise in the subject area.
- Make Sure You Have Done Credit Counseling
The state of Colorado does not allow individuals or joint applicants to file for bankruptcy unless they have completed a United States Trustee Approved credit counseling course. This pre-approved course must be completed prior to the filing of any bankruptcy petition unless you seek an extension allowing you to take the course and finish it after filing
- Proceed to the Filing Process
Once you have determined that a pro se bankruptcy is right for you and that you are eligible to file in the state of Colorado, you will have to determine where you need to file the appropriate paperwork and what the appropriate paperwork is.
The Colorado Bankruptcy Court is located in Denver, Colorado. The type of forms you file will vary based on the type of bankruptcy you are filing. For example, if you find that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the best fit for your needs, you will need to file several initial papers including (at minimum): the “Chapter 7 Voluntary Petition for Individuals” form (Form B101), the “Statement About Your Social Security Numbers” form (Form B121), the Certificate of Credit Counseling, a list of your creditors, and the filing fee (or an application for waiver of filing fee or an application for payment of filing fee in installments). At the date of this article, the filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $335.00.
These are not the only papers you will need to file, but the filing of this paperwork is typically a good start.
- Seek Assistance
While hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney would be the best way to get expert advice on your case, there are many ways to get assistance with filing documents regarding your bankruptcy and understanding the process.
If you are able to make it to Denver, consider attending a pro se legal information clinic. While you cannot obtain legal advice specific to your case at these clinics, the individuals running the clinics are volunteer attorneys from the Denver Bar Association that seek to make the basic process of filing for bankruptcy more accessible to those who haven’t gone to law school. The Colorado Bankruptcy Court website also provides many other pro se litigant resources that are definitely worth considering.
While the law does not require that you be represented by an attorney, hiring a lawyer who is experienced in the issue of the Colorado bankruptcy proceedings can certainly make the process of filing for bankruptcy much easier. Start your journey to financial relief with a call to an experienced and knowledgeable Colorado bankruptcy attorney. To inquire about a consultation, contact us today.
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