While a corporation or partnership that files for bankruptcy must do so
through an attorney, individual debtors who are filing for bankruptcy
in Illinois are not required to do so. However, there are many benefits
to filing for bankruptcy with the help of a legal professional. This is
because there are many rules that must be followed, and not following
all of them could compromise a debtor's rights.
For instance, if a debtor forgets to file a required document, the case
could be thrown out. Additionally, this could mean that the case cannot
be filed again in the future. If the case is allowed to be refiled, protections
such as an automatic stay may not be available. In all cases, debtors
must list their debts and all property owned. Failing to list a debt may
result in that debt not being eligible for discharge.
Falsifying or concealing evidence in a bankruptcy case is considered fraud.
Willfully failing to disclose any information requested by the court could
also be labeled as fraud. Cases may be audited to determine how truthful
and forthcoming a debtor was during the bankruptcy process. Overall, debtors
are expected to know and follow all bankruptcy laws whether they represent
themselves or are represented by an attorney.
Bankruptcy may be an effective way to eliminate or reorganize debt. It
may also enable a debtor to obtain relief from collection calls or legal
action being taken by creditors. While an attorney is not necessary for
an individual who is filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it
is often beneficial to hire a bankruptcy lawyer who can guide a client
through the process.
Source: United States Bankruptcy Court Northern District of Illinois, "Filing Without an Attorney", October 18, 2014