Can I file bankruptcy online?
The good news is filing for bankruptcy has been made simpler and more convenient with the Internet. In fact, there are dozens of websites who now offer the option to complete your bankruptcy forms online, saving you time and money. You may not even have to leave your house to start the bankruptcy process.
If you are filing a simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy you also may be able file without legal help, but for more complicated bankruptcies, even if you can complete some of the forms online, you may want to discuss your case with a lawyer.
Benefits of online bankruptcy filing
Not only will filing bankruptcy online help you save time, certain software programs have made the process easier. Just like tax software assists with tax preparation, bankruptcy software has been perfected to notify you if certain fields on the forms have not been filled out correctly, and if you have entered truncated or repetitive data. It can also perform multiple manual mathematical calculations and help you decipher legal interpretations of state and federal bankruptcy laws.
What if you do not have access to the Internet? You can go to the local library and use their computers or you can always go to your local courthouse and pick up the physical forms.
Costs to file bankruptcy online
Although filing online or completing the forms on your own without a lawyer will be less expensive, if you file online you can expect to pay up to $200 for access to this service. Some experts also suggest taking a tutorial such as Bankruptcy Software for Consumers to ensure you understand the necessary steps to complete the online forms.
Steps before I complete my online bankruptcy
Whether you complete an online bankruptcy or you decide to complete paper forms, you must determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. To qualify for Chapter 7 you must have limited income and/or pass a means test. Although the federal government provides a federal form for the means test, there are several websites that also provide a free means testing you can complete online. If you do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can restructure your debts under Chapter 13.
The next step is to request a copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus. Your credit report will have the addresses of your creditors, which you will need to fill out the bankruptcy forms.
Finally, you must complete the mandatory credit counseling course. The cost can range from $30 to $50, although you may have this fee waived under certain conditions. After completion you will receive a "Certificate of Completion", which you will need to include when you file your bankruptcy paperwork.
After you have completed the three steps listed above you are ready to find the perfect online software to complete your bankruptcy petition and schedules. Unfortunately, this step will be the most difficult and time-consuming. Fortunately, if you have done all of the necessary steps listed above, online submission should be easier than completing paper forms.
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Bankruptcy filings are public information, and it is possible for employers to access this data for a nominal fee.