Do I Need An Attorney?
Although a person is allowed to represent themself personally in a Chapter 13 case, (the legal term for representing one’s self is “Pro Se”), the Chapter 13 Trustee strongly advocates that debtors not attempt to file their own case without an attorney, or represent themselves before the United States Bankruptcy Court.
A Chapter 13 Trustee is prohibited from giving individual legal advice to either debtors or creditors in a Chapter 13 plan. Therefore, a debtor who chooses to represent themself Pro Se in a bankruptcy case does so at their own peril. Often times people representing themselves Pro Se complete the bankruptcy documents incorrectly; and therefore, creditors can easily seek appropriate court action to continue collection and foreclosure actions against the debtor’s income and property.
The Trustee strongly urges all individuals considering a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to contact one of the local bar associations.
Akron Bar Association
Medina County Bar Association
Portage County Bar Association
All three bar associations have attorney referral services and can assist individuals who need an attorney to represent them in bankruptcy. Often times individuals tell the Trustee that they cannot afford an attorney, which is not correct. Attorneys in a Chapter 13 plan are paid by the funds that the debtors pay monthly into the Chapter 13 plan. While most attorneys may require a down payment as a retainer fee and court filing fees, most attorneys do not require the full fee to be paid in full prior to the filing of the bankruptcy case.
A worst case scenario for individuals who are attempting to represent themselves Pro Se is those that seek the services of a bankruptcy petition preparer. Please see “The Perils of Using a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer”.
This information is not meant to convey legal advice to an individual seeking Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganization, but is meant strictly as an educational tool.