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DIY vs Bankruptcy Attorneys

DIY vs Bankruptcy Attorneys: Which One is Better in Washington?

Many people in Adams County, Washington struggle with debt. It can feel like you’re stuck with no way out. Bankruptcy is a legal option that can help you get a fresh start financially. However, the bankruptcy process has its own set of rules. 

This article will explain the two main ways to file for bankruptcy: doing it yourself (DIY) or with the help of a lawyer. We’ll weigh the good and bad points of each option so you can decide what’s right for you.

Short Summary

  • Choosing to hire a bankruptcy lawyer depends on how complex your situation is. You have to consider what type of bankruptcy you have to file and your financial situation. You must also check if you feel confident about handling legal matters independently.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy, high income, valuable assets, special debts, or aggressive creditors often need legal help due its difficult process.
  • Filing for bankruptcy pro se is possible in Washington.  It simply requires careful consideration of the complexities involved. This includes understanding state-specific laws and potential risks of errors in paperwork.
  • DIY bankruptcy can save money at first and make you feel in charge. This is especially true if your situation is simple and you don’t have much stuff or debt. But bankruptcy laws are confusing. The paperwork is hard. You also need to figure out how to protect your things and deal with pushy creditors on your own.
  • Even if you don’t have much money, you can still get help filing for bankruptcy. The court fees can be waived or spread out in payments, so you can afford a lawyer.
  • DIY bankruptcy might seem cheaper, but the whole thing is complicated and mistakes can hurt you. It’s best to talk to a lawyer first to figure out the best way to handle your situation.

When Might You Need a Bankruptcy Lawyer?

Sometimes, people can handle their bankruptcy alone, but it depends on their case and how comfortable they feel. Usually, though, it’s better to hire a bankruptcy lawyer.

Here’s why you might need a bankruptcy lawyer:

  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you get back on track with your finances. It lets you catch up on missed payments and potentially lower how much you owe on your car. But it’s complicated. You have to make a plan to pay your creditors for three or five years, and the court has to agree it’s doable. Plus, there might be extra paperwork to do.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy can also bring other problems. You might lose income during your repayment plan, or need to buy something big and expensive.  These problems make it harder than Chapter 7.
  • Even for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is simpler, it’s a good idea to get a lawyer if your situation is tricky. Here are some scenarios: 
    • if you make a lot of money, 
    • have valuable stuff, 
    • own a business, 
    • owe special debts, or 
    • have creditors who might try to stop your bankruptcy

If you’re unsure about handling the bankruptcy process, it’s best to get a lawyer to help you out.

Can I File for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney? 

Yes, you can file for bankruptcy in Washington without a lawyer. This is known as filing  pro se, which means you represent yourself throughout the legal process.  There are resources available from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to assist with pro se filings.

However, it’s important to understand the pros and cons carefully before deciding to go the DIY route. Bankruptcy laws, especially those specific to Washington state (see Title 11 of the U.S. Code), can be complex. Mistakes in paperwork can lead to delays or even dismissal of your case.

What are the Potential Benefits of DIY Bankruptcy?

If you’re stuck under a mountain of debt in Washington, bankruptcy can be a lifesaver. You can even file for bankruptcy by yourself, without a lawyer. This is called filing “pro se.” While having a lawyer help you is usually a good idea, there are some advantages to doing it yourself:

  • Save money now: This is the biggest perk. Lawyers can be expensive, and filing on your own means you don’t have to pay their fees. But remember, saving money now could cost you more in the long run if you mess up the paperwork.
  • Be in charge: Doing it yourself means you’re the boss of your case. Everything is up to you. This can be good if you like being in control.
  • Simpler situation: If you don’t owe a lot of money and don’t own much stuff, the paperwork and steps might be easy enough to handle on your own.

How Difficult Is It to File for Bankruptcy Without Legal Help?

The difficulty of filing for bankruptcy on your own in Washington depends on your specific situation. Here’s a breakdown:

Complexity of the Law

Bankruptcy laws, especially those specific to Washington state (see Title 11 of the U.S. Code), can be intricate. You need to do your research to understand if you qualify for bankruptcy. You have to find out what types of property you can protect and which bankruptcy chapter ( 7 or 13) is right for you.

Paperwork and Procedures

The bankruptcy process involves numerous forms and strict deadlines. Mistakes can lead to delays or dismissal of your case.

Asset Protection

Washington allows exemptions to shield some assets during bankruptcy. Knowing these exemptions and navigating them effectively can be challenging without legal expertise.

Creditor Communication

Negotiating with creditors and handling their responses can be complex.  An attorney can represent you and potentially secure better repayment terms.

You can file for bankruptcy on your own, but it’s tough, especially for complicated situations.  The risk of errors and a potentially less favorable outcome is higher when going the DIY route.

Why Should I Hire a Bankruptcy Attorney in Washington? 

In Washington, you can file for bankruptcy by yourself, but the whole thing can be super confusing with all the laws and money stuff. A bankruptcy lawyer with experience can really help you out throughout the process.

  • Win your case: Attorneys know of Washington bankruptcy law (Title 11 of the U.S. Code) and procedures. They can help you fill out all the forms correctly and on time, giving you a better shot of winning your case.
  • Asset Protection:  Washington law allows exemptions to shield some assets during bankruptcy.  A lawyer can help you figure out what you can hold onto and fight to make sure you get to keep as much as possible.
  • Deal with Debt Collectors:  Negotiating with creditors and their lawyers can be a hassle.  A lawyer can speak to them for you and maybe even get you a better deal on your debt or lower the total amount you owe.
  • Error Prevention:  There are a lot of forms and deadlines in bankruptcy. Messing up can slow things down, get your case thrown out, or even prevent you from wiping out your debt. A lawyer can help you avoid these mistakes and keep things moving smoothly.
  • Support and Guidance:  Bankruptcy can be a stressful and confusing process.   An attorney can provide ongoing support and guidance throughout the entire process. They can answer your questions and address any concerns you may have.
  • Long-Term Savings:  Lawyer fees might seem expensive now, but a good lawyer can help you win your case, keep more of your stuff, and maybe even lower your debt. This can save you more money in the long run.

Will a Bankruptcy Lawyer Help Me Rebuild My Credit?

In simple terms, yes! Lawyers make sure your bankruptcy case goes smoothly, giving you a new beginning. If any problems pop up later, your lawyer can help fix them, like if a creditor tries to collect a debt that’s been wiped out. They can also give you tips on how to improve your credit again after bankruptcy, so you can take advantage of new opportunities.

Call Us and Let’s Help You Determine Which One is Better: DIY Bankruptcy Vs Bankruptcy Attorney

Are you feeling overwhelmed by financial burdens and considering bankruptcy? Don’t navigate this critical decision alone. At McBurney Law, our experienced bankruptcy attorneys are here to guide you through the complexities of bankruptcy with clarity, compassion, and competency.

Why Choose Us?

  • With years of dedicated service, we’ve honed our skills in bankruptcy law to provide you with the highest level of expertise.
  • No two cases are the same, and we tailor our approach to meet your unique needs and circumstances.
  • We’ll help you explore all available options and develop a customized strategy that aligns with your goals.
  • Throughout the process, we’ll be by your side, offering compassionate guidance and unwavering advocacy.

Don’t let bankruptcy decisions weigh you down. Take control of your financial future with McBurney Law by your side. Whether you’re considering DIY options or seeking professional assistance, our team is here to assist you with confidence and clarity. Contact us today to take the first step toward a brighter financial future.

Aside from our office in Adams County (Othello, Moses Lake, Ritzville), we also provide solution and legal services on bankruptcy, estate planning, criminal defense, and family law in Yakima County (Yakima, Sunnyside, Grandview, Mabton, Toppenish, Selah), Spokane County (Spokane), Washington.