Filing Without an Attorney (pro se)
While it is possible to file a bankruptcy case "pro se" (without an attorney), it can be difficult. Hiring a competent attorney is highly recommended because many bankruptcy issues can be very complicated and it can be difficult to prepare the required paperwork. In addition, debtors may keep certain types of property (known as exempt property), and there are many types of debts that are non-dischargeable (not wiped out in the bankruptcy). An attorney can advise debtors on these issues. The staff at the Bankruptcy Clerk's Office cannot give legal advice. If you have questions about filing for bankruptcy or preparing the bankruptcy paperwork, please seek the advice of counsel.
Form B200 contains a list of the documents that debtors must file. Click here for the total filing fee due.
Official Bankruptcy Forms
Official forms are approved by the Judicial Conference of the United States and are mandatory. They must be used to file a bankruptcy petition and take certain other actions in a bankruptcy case, such as filing a Proof of Claim or applying to pay a filing fee in installments. Forms may be obtained at the link provided above or from the Bankruptcy Clerk's office.
If someone other than an attorney assists you with the preparation of the bankruptcy forms, you must disclose the name of the preparer on the petition.
Protecting Your Social Security Number
Individuals filing bankruptcy should place only the last four digits of their Social Security Number on the bankruptcy petition. Individuals are required to file, with the bankruptcy petition, a separate Statement of Social Security Number(s), Official Form 21, in which their full Social Security Number is given. This Statement of Social Security Number(s) is not part of the public record and is not available to the public.
Legal Advice & Resources
The Bankruptcy Clerk's Office is not permitted to provide you with legal advice. Your local library has law books that may be of assistance to you. The Local Bankruptcy Rules for the Southern District of West Virginia and information on the various chapters in bankruptcy are available in the Clerk's Office or on our web site.
Appropriate Courtroom Attire & Conduct
All persons present in a courtroom where a trial, hearing, or other proceeding is in progress must dress and conduct themselves in a manner demonstrating respect for the court.
Retaining Your Records
You should keep copies of all documents in your case. You may obtain copies of documents from the Bankruptcy Clerk's Office for a fee.
Credit Rating & Reports
The Bankruptcy Clerk's Office is not responsible for credit reports. Bankruptcy records are public records and the information contained in them can be retrieved by anyone. Any disputes you have with a credit agency must be resolved by you and that agency.