Are There Free Bankruptcy Attorneys?
Few individuals facing bankruptcy believe they can afford a bankruptcy attorney. After all, many bankruptcy attorneys charge several thousand dollars, and most bankruptcy petitioners don’t have that much cash lying around. In light of that cost when individuals can least afford it, many people look for a free bankruptcy attorney.
Unfortunately, free bankruptcy attorneys in Roseville or the greater Sacramento area don’t exist. Searching for a pro bono attorney won’t yield any results. However, there are some free resources for filing bankruptcy without an attorney.
Filing chapter 7 bankruptcy without an attorney carries the risk that you will lose property. In chapter 7 bankruptcy the petitioner can use state or federal exemption law to protect certain assets up to certain values. Any assets that exceed those values, or which cannot be protected, are sold. In essence, the individual filing chapter 7 bankruptcy loses control of their property after filing the case.
Bankruptcy attorneys understand state and federal exemption laws and generally foresee whether assets will be sold before a case is filed. In contrast, individuals filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy without an attorney frequently lose assets to the bankruptcy Trustee.
Do It Yourself Bankruptcy Software
Some people choose to file chapter 7 bankruptcy on their own without an attorney. In these cases, they often use ‘do it yourself’ bankruptcy software to complete the petition, statements, and schedules. Such software or non-profit will usually direct the self-represented petitioner to get a free consultation with a local legal aid service.
Unsurprisingly, despite the prevalence of ‘do it yourself‘ software, there aren’t many self-represented bankruptcy petitioners on the Sacramento 341 calendar. The reason for the lack of pro se petitioners could lie in the fact that most legal aid services in the Sacramento area don’t provide bankruptcy consultations. Another reason could be that somewhere in the process of completing the forms and learning about the consequences of making a mistake, cautious individuals wisely choose to spend $900 for a bankruptcy attorney and avoid costly errors. After all, you lose control of your property once a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition is filed. Other individuals may just get overwhelmed with the 50-60 pages of forms and opt to let an attorney deal with the petition preparation.
While free bankruptcy attorneys don’t exist, many bankruptcy attorneys offer free consultations. During a free consultation, an attorney can determine whether you qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy, whether your assets can be protected, and point out any issues that are unique to bankruptcy law such as insider repayments in the past year. However, the attorney’s advice will be limited to the information your report, and your recollection of some things such as income may not align with your pay stubs. Nevertheless, a free bankruptcy consultation can be a valuable first step in the bankruptcy process.