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Is it possible to file for personal Bankruptcy in Massachusetts without a lawyer?

Stoneham, MA |

I cannot afford to get the lawyer (who requires a down payment first) to file bankruptcy for me. I'm looking into the possibility of doing this myself but wanted to know if it's doable. I most likely will file for Chapter 11.

Attorney Answers 5


Chapter 7 is the usual consumer bankruptcy of choice. I am only guessing that since the category selected states "Chapter 7 Bankruptcy" that it was a typo later at the bottom of this question where you indicated you want to file a chapter 11. Chapter 11 reorganization is generally only for businesses and the very wealthy.

However, chapter 7 bankruptcy is fraught with procedural and legal challenges and it is NOT advisable to do-it-yourself for many reasons, not the least of which is that if you miscalculate the exemptions you could start losing things and chapter 7 can not be ordinarily withdrawn or dismissed. Also, I do not know any bankruptcy attorneys who relish "taking over" any bankruptcy filing once someone else has filed it and they need "cleanup". If that happens you'll end up paying a much higher legal fee.

So, while anything is technically possible - hey, the USA put a rover and a computer on Mars - my answer to you is that it is not wise to file without an attorney and you can not afford NOT to retain experienced counsel. If you are absolutely hell-bent on doing it yourself, buy the NOLO Publishing book on How To File Chapter 7. Read it cover to cover. Only after reading that book, available in the big box stores and on line vendors, and understanding it, then think about the possibility of filing yourself.

Another good resource is the information and series of videos available at the court website.

Finally, here's a very brief summary of bankruptcy NOT meant to replace your going and hiring an attorney:

Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers, North Andover, MA & Derry, NH provide answers for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be given by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, thoroughly familiar with the area of the law in which your concern lies. This creates no attorney-client relationship.

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You can certainly file pro se but you need to have some knowledge of the law.
Chapter 7 is an easier procedure while Chapter 11 requires the intervention of an attorney.
Call the local bar association, if you qualify they will assist you pro bono.
Good luck!

Attorney Advertising. The information given above is intended to provide general information only and not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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11 USC 527(b) requires any attorney you consult with to disclose to you that you can file bankruptcy for yourself, and do not need an attorney.

While you're free to try, many bankruptcy attorneys won't touch Chapter 11 cases because they are so complicated and time-consuming. Legal to file on your own? Yes. Doable? Hardly. Is it possible that maybe you're confusing it with another chapter?

What you can do and what is wise to do are completely different things. Many attorneys accept payments. I think you should meet with a couple more.

Good luck to you.

This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and I. I am not your attorney unless we both sign a written contract that describes our relationship and terms of the representation. Any information provided to you here is not a substitute for the advice you need to pursue any legal matter. I advise you to retain the services of a local attorney before taking any legal action in this matter.

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10 lawyers agree


It may be possible, but not advisable, to do your own chapter filing, although it is unlikely you will want to file chapter 11, because this is a very specific bankruptcy not generally suitable or used for personal bankruptcy.
Most pro se chapter filings are not successful, after all, who likely has a better chance of performing a major medical procedure, a doctor, or a patient?

Perhaps you can seek assistance from a legal clinic, a law school, or other charitable organization, or a volunteer attorney, because this is a very difficult area of law to represent yourself, and you simply need legal help.
Good luck.

General legal advice is offered for educational purposes only. A consultation with a qualified attorney is required to determine specific legal advice as to your situation and applicable law. We are a debt relief agency and we help people file for relief under the bankruptcy laws.

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12 lawyers agree


Most chapter 11 debtors do not exit bankruptcy with a confirmed Chapter 11 Plan even when they hire experienced counsel. , Needless to say, absent counsel, the liklihood is much less when there is not counsel.

Chapter 11 has many requirements such as filing monthly cash flow reports and maintaining insurance that debtors have problems following even when they have counsel. I have been involved several times with debtors with no or inexperienced counsel and the court appointed a trustee to take over to insure the formalities are followed. Debtors told me that they were often thrilled by the appointment of a trustee because they thought they finally got an experienced bankruptcy professional without paying a retainer. They did not focus on the fact that the trustee is a court appointed fiduciary with a duty first to creditors and accordingly can not take the risks inherent in the running a week business. By the time the debtor found the money to get me involved, salvation was a long shot because the debtor could not operate conservatively enough to satisfy the Trustee who had no choice but to meet his duty as a fiduciary . Needless to say, I accepted the case because it appeared clear to me that the business was viable without a trustee and had a fighting chance even with a Trustee.

In Chapter 11, the question is can you avoid Chapter 11 and if not, is it a likely waste of time without counsel

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