It is much better to have an attorney. Costs are different depending on the type of bankruptcy you are claiming. There are two types of personal bankruptcy CH 7, which discharges most of your debts entirely, and CH 13, which is a personal reorganization plan where you pay back your debts at a lower amount. CH 7 costs less than CH 13, but you have to qualify for it. Many BR attorneys will provide a free initial consultation, and could give you a good overview of the process, quote you a fee and give you time frame - as well as discuss your specific situation.
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You most certainly DO need a lawyer to do it the right way. Most Chapter 7 bankruptcies are completed in about 3 to 6 months (usually closer to 3 months). I won't quote fees in this forum, and you'd have to come see me for a free consultation, but my fees are usually lower than anybody's. Good luck!
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The laws governing bankruptcy are complicated. Determining which bankruptcy you qualify for, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, can be confusing, and it is important for you to understand how your assets can be protected when you file bankruptcy. While it is possible for you to file pro se (without the help of an attorney), it is not recommended. The benefit and peace of find that you will get from using an attorney will far outweigh the potential traps that you can find yourself in if you depend on yourself to file bankruptcy. Many bankruptcy attorneys offer free consultations, so reach out. The cost will depend on the attorney you choose and what type of bankruptcy you file. Good luck!
You do need an attorney. Many people try to do it themselves and make things more difficult. It is generally cheaper for a lawyer to do it right the first time than fix things. You can call me at 727 321-3433 if you want to come to St. Pete for a free consult.