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Whether or not you decide to handle your bankruptcy yourself, many people find it useful to buy a book on the subject to get the lay of the land before plunging ahead and spending money on a lawyer. Although there are mistakes you can make in handling a bankruptcy yourself, starting with a good book on the subject can reduce this risk considerably -- and it can help you keep an eye on your lawyer and work with them more efficiently. Books don't charge by the hour.

Bankruptcy Forms With Step-by-Step Instructions

Nolo Online Bookstore

Nolo is a well-respected publisher of books and software designed to help people handle their own legal affairs. Their website features many helpful articles on a wide variety of topics, including bankruptcy. You can also buy Nolo products there.

(DISCLAIMER: I co-author a book for Nolo on bankruptcy, so... yes, I tend to recommend Nolo books -- for the same reason I write for Nolo; because I think Nolo is an honest, decent company that produces quality products.)

Step-by-Step Guides

Chapter 7 | Chapter 13 | Credit Repair

The following books take you step by step through the filing process, including how to fill in the standard federal bankruptcy forms used for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy..

How to File for
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

(19th ed, October 2015)

How to File For Bakruptcy

If you have more debt than you can possibly pay off, the bankruptcy system is there to help -- and with How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you'll find the clear and user-friendly information, advice and forms you need to get through the entire process.

First, the book will help you determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7 -- and whether it is the best way to deal with your debts. Then you'll find out how to:

* stop wage garnishments and attachments
* fill out and file all the forms
* cancel as much debt as possible
* deal with secured debts
* keep the maximum amount of property
* keep your home, if possible
* rebuild credit after bankruptcy

The 19th edition is completely updated and revised to reflect the latest laws and legal forms, plus the line-by-line instructions you need to fill them out. Get new information on foreclosure and exemption requirements, and read the latest court decisions. And, easy-to-use charts make looking up your state's laws a snap.

In Paperback and eBook (PDF)
Pub. Date: Oct 2015
Edition: 19th
Pages: 464 pp
ISBN: 9781413321944
Forms: 38 forms

Buy now: Nolo (publisher)

 

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy:
Keep Your Property & Repay Your Debts Over Time
(12th edition, 2014)

Chapter 13 Bakruptcy Book
Are you behind on your mortgage, taxes or other bills? Are creditors threatening foreclosure or repossession? Consider Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which can give you an affordable repayment plan -- and let you keep your house, car and other property. Use this plain-English guide to decide whether or not it's right for you.

Nolo's Chapter 13 Bankruptcy breaks down the Chapter 13 process and provides clear explanations of the law. First, you can:

  • consider nonbankruptcy alternatives for solving your debt problems
  • decide which is better for you -- Chapter 7 or Chapter 13
  • determine whether you qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy

Then, delve deeper into Chapter 13 and find out:

  • how filing bankruptcy stops creditors instantly (the "automatic stay")
  • how Chapter 13 can help you avoid foreclosure
  • whether you can reduce your car loan balance, or the balance on other secured debts
  • whether you can get rid of second mortgages or home equity debt

If you think Chapter 13 bankruptcy could work for you, you'll be ready to:

  • determine (with the book's forms and step-by-step instructions) whether you have enough income to come up with a repayment plan that the court will approve
  • calculate the amount of your monthly plan payment
  • find and work effectively with an excellent lawyer, and
  • rebuild your credit after bankruptcy.

This newest edition includes information on hiring and working with a lawyer, recent court rulings that interpret the federal bankruptcy laws. You'll also find the latest bankruptcy exemption laws in your state, which determine what copy you can keep, and recent IRS standard expense amounts, which affect Chapter 13 plan payments.

In Paperback and eBook (Adobe Reader)
Pub. Date: May 2014
Edition: 12th
Pages: 416 pp
ISBN:9781413320268
Forms: 29 forms

List Price: 39.99
Buy now:
Nolo (publisher)

 

Books on Bankruptcy, Generally

The following books give you a good overview of how bankruptcy fits in the with other debt relief options, and helps you figure out how bankruptcy could help your particular debt problems.

The New Bankruptcy

This book discusses, in plain-English the practical implications of the bankruptcy law changes that took effect in October 2005. The book explains how the new law is not as bad as you may have thought. Most people in financial straits can still gain much from filing. But there is more paperwork and more stringent rules than under the old law.

Find out what's good about the new law, what's bad, and how the new rules may affect you.

In Paperback and eBook (PDF)
Pub. Date: May 2015
Edition: 6th
Pages: 448 pp
ISBN: 9781413321487
Forms: 27 forms

Buy this Book: Nolo (publisher's site)

 

Bankruptcy for Small Business Owners

Bankruptcy for Small Business Owners

The only bankruptcy guide written just for small business owners

If your business is facing hard times, you may need to consider Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which can let you wipe out personal debts and possibly, some business debts as well.

With Bankruptcy for Small Business Owners, you can find out how to assess the financial condition of your business and determine whether bankruptcy is a good choice for you. Learn about:

  • your bankruptcy options (Chapter 7, Chapter 13)
  • eligibility requirements for filing bankruptcy
  • how bankruptcy would affect your business debts and assets
  • "look back" requirements -- periods of time during which personal or business actions have created obstacles to filing for bankruptcy
  • how filing bankrupty stops creditors from coming after you (the "automatic stay")
  • how to put a value on business assets, including good will and intellectual property
  • exemptions that protect a small business owner's property
  • what happens to a house in bankruptcy

The book contains all the forms you need for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, plus all the instructions you need to fill them out and file them in federal bankruptcy court.

 

"The most prominent U.S. publisher of self-help legal aids."
Time Magazine

"The nation’s largest publisher of self-help legal books and software."
-The Wall Street Journal

 

 

Credit Repair

After bankruptcy, or even if you never file, there are things you can do to repair your credit and get the benefits of a higer credit score.

Credit Repair

Credit RepairCredit problems? Get the acclaimed plain-English guide to fixing your credit report!

Nearly 80 percent of credit reports contain errors. In a tough economy when credit is tight, you need to be certain that your financial records are correct and up-to-date. A less-than-flattering report can hurt your chances of qualifying for credit card, loans, renting an apartment or even finding a job.

But a bad credit report can almost always be improved or corrected. Credit Repair shows you how to fix your credit situation quickly and easily, explaining the necessary steps in plain English. Learn how to:

  • avoid overspending
  • establish a realistic budget
  • get out of debt now
  • build a financial cushion
  • read and understand your credit report
  • get mistakes on your credit report fixed
  • protect your social security number
  • avoid credit discrimination
  • get positive information added to your credit report
  • negotiate with creditors

Credit Repair includes dozens of forms and letters on CD-ROM that will help you spruce up your credit report as easily as possible!

 

In Paperback and eBook (PDF)
Pub. Date: May 2015
Edition: 12th
Pages: 268 pp
ISBN: 9781413314205
Forms: 39 forms

Buy now: Nolo (publisher)

 

Alternatives to Bankruptcy

Solve Your Money Troubles

Solve Your Money Troubles

Feeling overwhelmed by your debts? If you're ready to regain your financial freedom, feeling the squeeze of the housing bust or simply get smarter about managing your money, you'll find everything you need in this complete guide. Solve Your Money Troubles shows you how to:

 

  • prioritize debts
  • create a budget
  • negotiate with creditors
  • stop collector harassment
  • challenge wage attachments
  • contend with repossessions
  • respond to creditor lawsuits
  • qualify for a mortgage
  • rebuild credit
  • decide if bankruptcy is the right option for you

To make the process easier, the 12th edition of Solve Your Money Troubles includes all-new sample letters to creditors which reflect changing financial times, as well as worksheets and charts to calculate your debts and expenses and help you create a repayment plan. You'll also get fully updated state laws and new information on dealing with foreclosure.

In Paperback and eBook (Adobe Reader)
Pub. Date: April 2011
Edition: 13th
Pages: 536 pp

 

Foreclosure

The Foreclosure Survival Guide

The Foreclosure Survival GuideKeep Your House or Walk Away With Money In Your Pocket
(4th edition, 2013)


by Attorney Stephen R. Elias

Facing foreclosure? Know your options!

If you're having trouble making your mortgage payments or are already in jeopardy of foreclosure, The Foreclosure Survival Guide compassionately gives you the practical information you need, step by step.

An essential tool for anyone at risk of foreclosure, The Foreclosure Survival Guide provides key information about:

  • mortgages, including adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs)
  • short sales
  • deeds in lieu of foreclosure
  • judicial and non-judicial foreclosure
  • credit counseling
  • liens, and
  • using bankruptcy to deal with foreclosure.

The Foreclosure Survival Guide gathers all the information Attorney Stephen R. Elias used to help hundreds of clients in over 30 years and shows you how to deal with foreclosure.

Like many hardworking people facing foreclosure in this rough economy, you deserve answers to your pressing questions. Thorough and easy to understand, The Foreclosure Survival Guide can help you stay in your home or walk away with money in your pocket.


Books for Bankruptcy Professionals

The following books are written for lawyers and law students and do not attempt to translate the law into plain English.

Bankruptcy and Related Law in a Nutshell (Nutshell Series)

by David G. Epstein

Don't expect a lot of plain English in this book. This is for people who are comfortable with legal lingo and want a quick overview of this area of law. Be sure you get the 2005 or later edition with the blue cover.
Paperback: 474 pages
Publisher: West
7th edition

Buy from: Powell's :: Amazon

The New Bankruptcy Code (Paperback)
by Sally M. Henry

Contains the full text of the new Bankruptcy Code effective October 2005 including comparisons to the old Code; a checklist of key changes and effective dates so practitioners can quickly know important information.

Buy from: Powell's :

Consumer Bankruptcy News (periodical)

Pricey but highly recommended for bankruptcy professionals who want to keep up with the latest news and court cases interpreting the provisions of the new bankruptcy law. Provides articles, commentaries, and practice pointers to improve business. Excellent resource for consumer bankruptcy attorneys. Buy from: Amazon

Bankruptcy Software for Lawyers

All software and services listed below claim to be 50-state, so they should work in the .

Best Case Bankruptcy Solutions ($975 and up)

BestCase is the leading bankruptcy software for lawyers.

NewHope Software ($1095 and up)

 

Blankrupter Software (Blumberg, $750)

Do your own search!

 

CloseDo I Need a Lawyer?

There is no requirement to use a lawyer to file for bankruptcy. However, some people decide to hire one to help them get through the process.

Whether you're a good candidate for doing it yourself, depends on the complexity of your financial situation, and your willingness to take the time to learn the rules of bankruptcy. (If you're not the type of person that is willing to follow instructions carefully, then self-help is probably not for you.)

Your Financial Situation

If your debts consist only of unsecured credit card debt, you may well be able to file for bankruptcy on your own.

However, other factors to consider are the amount and type of property you own. If you own your home, have substantial retirement savings, or other substantial assets you may want to consult with a lawyer to make sure your property is not at risk.

A good way to approach the decision of whether to hire a lawyer is to buy (and read) Nolo's book How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. It will give you a good idea of what issues may arise when you file, and flags specific situations when a lawyer's help is called for. It will also give you a good idea of whether the filing process seems to complicated for you.

If your financial situation is simple, but you just don't want to deal with the forms, you might consider a using a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer to handle the form preparation.

Some lawyers may be willing to review your situation without taking on your entire case. If they see that your situation is very simple, some lawyers might even tell you that you can do it yourself.

One option is to get limited help from a lawyer combined with the services of a bankruptcy petition preparer. If you live in California, see www.bankruptcylawproject.com for more information about their "Affordable Attorney Advice" service, which, for a flat rate of $100, will answer all questions that may arise in the course of your bankruptcy, but not actually file bankruptcy for you. (Disclaimer: This service is run by my friend and co-author, Attorney Stephen Elias. But I think what he's doing is pretty innovative and useful and so I list it here.)

Other Resources, Other Opinions

Lots of people have opinions on the topic of whether you should get a lawyer. Most lawyers... guess what... think you should always have a lawyer. But, seriously, they make some worthwhile points that are worth reading as you decide what to do.

The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) makes the case of why you should use an attorney and offers tips for those who cannot afford one.

The law firm of Moran Law Group, in addition to providing loads of useful free information about bankruptcy, also makes the case why you should get a lawyer and the US Courts site has this advice about filing without an attorney.

And Nolo has an article on Filing for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney

These are all worth reading.

Close

CloseWhat should I expect from a lawyer?

If you hire a lawyer, make sure your lawyer is an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. Bankruptcy is a complex, unique area of law that is not something that a general practitioner can learn overnight. Ask your lawyer how many bankruptcies they have filed.

Your lawyer will probably have you fill in a questionnaire about your property, debts, expenses and income. A good lawyer will be able to determine quickly what kinds of debts will be dischargeable in bankruptcy. The lawyer should advise you to get credit counseling before you file, and will may even have a computer terminal in their office where you can do the counseling right there, online. Many lawyers have preferred credit counselors that they work with.

Lawyers are responsible for making sure that your information is accurate, so they will be asking you to bring in documentation about your finances, including pay stubs, tax returns, etc.

For more information about working with a bankruptcy attorney, check out Chapter 10 of How to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Close

CloseWhat is a "BPP" (Bankruptcy Petition Preparer)?

Bankruptcy Petition Preparers are non-lawyers paid by consumers to prepare bankruptcy documents, for filing in court.

Anyone can be a BPP, provided they comply with the rules governing BPP practice contained in the bankruptcy code.

Customers who use a BPP are representing themselves in the bankruptcy court. This means they are responsible for making the choices required of them in their case. They must also provide the BPP with complete and accurate information to be entered in the documents.

Because BPPs are not lawyers, their customers must obtain necessary legal information and advice from an independent source such as a self-help law book or a lawyer.

Think of it this way, A BPP's customers are their own lawyers and the BPP is thewww.bankruptcylawproject.com.

Close




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