The way the media reports on celebrity financial troubles, you’d think that filing for bankruptcy is just about the easiest thing in the world to do — but it’s not. In fact, cases get thrown out of court every year because of egregious oversights made by the filers of the legal forms. It’s not easy and it’s not particularly wise to try to handle it all yourself. That’s what local bankruptcy attorneys are for. But as clear as it is to know that you need help, it’s not quite as clear to realize when you might need that help. And if you can recognize that you’re in financial danger, what are the steps to completing the process? We’ve put together this handy how-to guide for how to file for bankruptcy so you and others like you don’t have to make the same mistakes as the folks who’ve tried (and failed miserably) in the past. Step 1: Hire a lawyer and go over your case’s specifics The lawyer’s role in this entire process is to facilitate things for you. Of course, lawyers have fees, and if you’re considering bankruptcy, you’re likely not going to have much money, so save up until you do. Then, hire a lawyer to get all the Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy information you need to figure out which one to declare. For reference, Chapter 7 refers to liquidation of your assets, while Chapter 13 is more of a reorganization of your debts into a new payment plan. Step 2: Meet with a credit counselor, then file Just as the lawyer will tell you how to file, the credit counselor will tell you exactly when to file bankruptcy based on your records. You need this meeting, which can usually be done over the phone, to obtain a certificate for the filing process. Once you’ve got it, refer your creditors to your bankruptcy lawyer and have him or her file your case. This will get the creditors off your back until your case is settled in court. Again, this is where having that Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy information comes in handy. Step 3: Schedule more credit counseling before you’re discharged Once your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney has filed your case, you’ll need to return to credit counseling in order to hear more about proper budgeting. This is a formality, but it’s also extremely helpful for folks who’ve dug themselves into a hole because of poor financial planning. When that’s complete, you’ll meet with trustees and the court will hear your case, which usually only takes a few minutes. Then, you’ll finally be debt-free. It’s important to note that bankruptcy is not some kind of miracle reset button you can just push indiscriminately. Bankruptcy stays on your credit report long after you file and also may inhibit your ability to secure loans for a few years. But it’s a long road to recovery, and the sooner you file, the sooner you’ll be back on track. For more Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy information, talk to a local legal professional today.