It is strongly recommended that anyone considering filing bankruptcy consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Many attorneys will provide you with a free initial consultation. When you file without an attorney, you are in essence acting as your own attorney. Keep in mind that the Bankruptcy Court, the U.S. Trustee, and case trustees are all forbidden by federal law from giving you legal advice. Legal advice includes the following:
- Advising you whether or not to file a bankruptcy petition
- Advising you which chapter to file under if you choose to file
- Advising you whether your debts, including taxes, will be discharged
- Advising you whether or not you will be able to retain your home, car, or other property after you file
- Advising you of the tax consequences of filing a bankruptcy case
- Advising you whether you should continue to pay a creditor or enter into a reaffirmation agreement with a creditor
- Advising you on how to properly list property, debts, and exemptions on your bankruptcy documents
- Advising you on the best procedure to accomplish a particular goal
- Explaining the meaning of a particular law or rule
- Explaining the result of taking or not taking an action in a case
- Helping you complete forms
- Telling you in which state to file your case
- Explaining who should receive proper notice or service
- Explaining bankruptcy procedures and rights
If you cannot afford an attorney, there are options for free or lower cost assistance:
- The Oregon State Bar has a Lawyer Referral Service which will direct you to an attorney who has agreed to provide limited consultation at reduced rates. Call (503) 684-3763 or toll-free in Oregon at (800) 452-7636. The Bar also offers a “Tel-Law” service where callers can listen to recorded information concerning bankruptcy. Call (503) 620-3000.
- An informational Bankruptcy Clinic is held in many locations throughout the state for those considering filing a chapter 7 case.
- Depending where you live and whether you meet legal aid income eligibility requirements, you may be able to meet with a volunteer bankruptcy attorney to discuss your situation. More information is available here.