How to use ChatGPT (and Other AI Tools) to Navigate the Bankruptcy Process in California

Bankruptcy Lawyers Serving Bakersfield, CA
Means Test Calculator for Kern County, For Cases Filed on or after May 15, 2023

Last Reviewed: Thu, Aug 10, 2023

If you've been reading at all, you know that the improvement in generative AI tools, like ChatGPT v.4, have made it possible now to get work done more quickly than ever, especially in knowledge fields like law.

This is great news for consumers because now they can use ChatGPT as a research assistant when exploring their debt relief options.

This article will show you how to effectively use AI tools, like ChatGPT, Google Bard, and, to help you through the bankruptcy process in your state and county.

Getting Started

To effectively use AI, you must understand it's an auto-complete machine. So, to get an answer you can use, crafting the question is very important. This is called prompt engineering. They teach courses in prompt engineering to young lawyers at big law firms.

In our tests here at, we have discovered that GPT4 does best when answering questions like the ones that follow. Sometimes, it will say it can't give you information about legal matters. But, if you rephrase the question and ask what a lawyer would ask me in this situation, it is quite free and gives good information you can use as a foundation for further research.

Localizing your answer

Moreover, you can use this information in a localized way. As you will see below, I start a chat session with GPT by asking it what a lawyer would ask me about a particular legal topic in a particular situation.

Then, I go back and ask for it to provide a paragraph explaining why the lawyer would ask that question and provide a citation to state law or federal law that is relevant to that question.

This can provide you with a solid foundation of a legal research outline of what bankruptcy laws affect you and your situation.

And it's an amazingly fast way to compile this information. Far faster than any other method... But then you have to check to confirm what it told you is 'real' and not something it just made up, as it went off the rails.

Checking your answer for "fictitious" laws from "hallucinations"

Some percentage of your GPT4 answer may be wrong; these AI tools sometimes (often!!) make things up.

GPT4 is better than others and good at providing true information, but it still can occasionally go off the rails and get a bit too creative and create elaborate citations that sound like they could be true but are pure fiction.


Ask, "What would a bankruptcy lawyer ask?" And why? And provide relevant citations, please

You may be shocked to find how simple it is to start using ChatGPT as a bankruptcy research assistant.

Here are three powerful prompts that can give you a ton of information about bankruptcy where you live. 

Prompt #1.
What are some questions that a California Bankruptcy lawyer would ask of someone whose is thinking about bankruptcy to deal with their debts?

Try it yourself. Click on the above text to copy it and then click on one of the sources below and enter it into the prompt box. 

Generative AI Tools to Try:

  • ChatGPT4 is the most powerful AI tool, costing $20 per month. But it's worth it if you must do legal research that has to be right. Still not always accurate, but better than others.
  • Google Bard - useful for getting up-to-date information like locations of offices and current fees, but sometimes gets things like street names wrong. (Google search is often better!)
  • - a competitor to A public benefit corporation trying to make AI tools that won't destroy the planet. We applaud their mission. But their AI tool is very prone to hallucinations and needs better guardrails. It loves to make up laws that don't exist.

Try this prompt on:
ChatGPT4 Google Bard

Once you get that answer, follow up with a second prompt... 

Can you write an article explaining the relevance of each question, citing which California laws are relevant to each question?

Try this prompt on:
ChatGPT4 Google Bard

This prompt #2 where it starts to get fun--and blow your mind, frankly. You will probably generate a very useful article.

Try it for California, using ChatGPT 4.

But is it true?

Is every one of those citations in your AI-generated answers correct?

We don't know. 

At this stage in the development of AI tools, it's always good to check.

  • Claude AI, in particular, makes up URLs and case law without hesitation.
  • Google Bard can be better and more current on things like locations of probate courts and links to forms and fees, but sometimes it won't answer certain questions unless you phrase them In a certain way. It also invents case law and names of judges and Streets. 

One way to check is to ask several AI tools the same question and see if they have the same answers. If they all agree, you're probably getting the real answer, although there are some weak spots.

One thing generative AI often gets wrong: Monetary caps are often indexed for inflation. Ask it to check:

  • AI tools like this often miss that are dollar-amount caps that are indexed for inflation and change each year or every three years, etc.
  • So it's good to ask the bot to check twice in your state. We did that for Michigan when it incorrectly told us the small estate limit was 15,000. After asking them to check again, it came back with this. 
    • "

      Thanks for catching that! You're absolutely right. I appreciate you clarifying that the small estate limit in Michigan is currently $27,000, not $15,000.

      You're correct that the limit is indexed and changes periodically. I should have double checked the current amount instead of relying on outdated information. Thank you for pointing out that oversight - it will help me provide more accurate information in the future when discussing small estates in Michigan. I'm grateful when someone takes the time to correct me and help improve my knowledge.

       - July 2023
  • When we caught Google bard on the same mistake, and asked "are you sure about the Michigan amount?" it came back with this.
    • "I apologize for the error. The current small estate threshold in Michigan is $27,000. The threshold is adjusted annually for inflation.

      The following table shows the small estate threshold in Michigan for the past few years:

      Year Threshold Amount
      2023 $27,000
      2022 $25,000
      2021 $24,000
      2020 $23,000
      2019 $22,000
      - google bard July 2023

Pretty sweet, eh?

So, if you're quoted bankruptcy exemption limits, ask them to check if those limits are indexed for inflation. 


Write an article about what kinds of property are exempt in bankruptcy under California law, and provide citations for each exemption mentioned.

Try this prompt on:
ChatGPT4 Google Bard
We ask this prompt because, so far, we've been asking about the bankruptcy process, and now we need to know which of our assets are exempt. So, this question helps us to start to see which assets are exempt.
Use this prompt cautiously, and confirm your answers because it could produce fiction. Do not rely on any answers you get with out confirming them in some other way (traditional web searching).

Getting help with complex step-by-step procedures and local information

These AI tools can be quite good at breaking things into steps, and if you ask the question just right, you can get a load of useful information concisely.

For example, try the following prompts for your zip code:

Where is the Bankruptcy Court serving Kern County, California, how much are the fees, and where can I download forms I may need?

Try this prompt on:
ChatGPT4 Google Bard

This prompt might be best done on Google Bard because it's based on current web data, whereas ChatGPT 4 only goes through 2021 (as of this writing)


There are many ways generative AI tools can speed up your research on bankruptcy law in California and Kern County. And you should take advantage of these powerful tools that are free to use. The world is changing constantly, and this is one way it's getting better for consumers.

And remember, enter any valid zip code to see this article written for another jurisdiction!


Bankruptcy Lawyers Serving Bakersfield, CA
Means Test Calculator for Kern County, For Cases Filed on or after May 15, 2023

Jurisdictional relevance:

There are versions of this article for each State.

Selected State: California
Nearby States