Filing Bankruptcy Without an Attorney in Arizona

filing bankruptcy without an attorneyEveryone is entitled to their time in court, regardless of whether or not they are represented by an attorney.  Whether because you choose to represent yourself or represent yourself because of lack of funds to pay an attorney, this post will describe some of the basic requirements in Arizona bankruptcy court.

The Arizona bankruptcy webpage provides a short video for those considering filing without an attorney.  Arizona strongly supports those wanting to file for bankruptcy to hire an attorney.  They note that the most important things to do in bankruptcy cases is to file at the correct time and to fill out the forms correctly and honestly.  For bankruptcy forms, you open yourself up to potential liability for filling out any form incorrectly.

Many attorneys will provide a free consultation which can be helpful for those considering filing along to look at their options and perhaps get a better deal.  Arizona noted that 25% of cases filed without an attorney are dismissed, which shows how crucial attorneys can be navigating the complexities of bankruptcy law.  Arizona provides a self-help center at the Phoenix and Tucson courthouses for those considering filing alone that can be helpful.  At these self-help centers, volunteer attorneys from the Bankruptcy Section of the State Bar of Arizona provide 20-30 minute consultation with individual considering filing for bankruptcy.  These consultations are free. Volunteer attorneys are also available by telephone if you cannot come in person.  Appointments for consultations need to be made and can be made online.  The volunteer attorneys only consult on chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases, not chapter 11 cases.

Bankruptcy Court’s Self Help Center

To use the self-help service, you are required to watch a bankruptcy education program video and complete an online questionnaire.  The videos give general important information about bankruptcy and the questionnaire allows the attorneys to give you specific advice at the consultation.

Again, it is always preferable to file with an attorney.  However, if you don’t, there are important deadlines and legal considerations that are extremely important in bankruptcy.

Arizona provides helpful pamphlets for filing bankruptcy.  There are instructions for bankruptcy forms for individuals that instruct which forms to use.  Arizona also has a list of their exemptions.  Exemptions means the debtor can keep the property during the bankruptcy proceeding and does not have to turn it over to the bankruptcy trustee.

Arizona also provides a pamphlet on choosing which bankruptcy is right for you.  This will determine which chapter of bankruptcy you file.  The pamphlet also discusses what this bankruptcy proceeding will do for you.

Important Bankruptcy Definitions

Bankruptcy uses many different complicated terms.  Here are a few important ones:

Chapter: The Federal Bankruptcy Code is divided into Chapters, signaling the different types of cases and situations of debtors.  Chapter 7 deals with liquidation cases and Chapter 13 deals with individual cases where there is a three to five-year plan to repay a portion of the debt.

Collateral: Property pledged as a security for debt.  If you default on a debt, the collateral will be used.  It may be sold with the proceeds being used to pay off the debt.

Creditor: A person or company to whom you owe money.

Discharge: A discharge is a court order stating that your obligation to the debt has been relieved.

Secured debts: debts that a creditor can look to some specific property you owe to collect if you do not pay on the debts.

Trustee: A Trustee is appointed by the Court to supervise your bankruptcy case.  Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases utilize trustees.

Click here for information on common misconceptions in bankruptcy.