Deciding to file for bankruptcy is a complicated and highly personal decision that will have a long-term impact on your life. While the law doesn’t require you to have legal representation during this process, working with a licensed and experienced lawyer who specializes in personal bankruptcy can make the process a lot easier. Just like other types of lawyers, a bankruptcy attorney has expertise in a specific area of bankruptcy law. For personal bankruptcy, also known as consumer bankruptcy, this is either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
Your lawyer can tell you which of these two options is most appropriate, given your specific circumstances. A bankruptcy attorney will handle your case from beginning to end and provide invaluable advice and legal counsel on any and all matters related to your case. By working with a lawyer, the entire bankruptcy process is greatly simplified, as your primary tasks will really just consist of answering questions, information and documentation as required. Your attorney does all the heavy lifting. If you need legal assistance you can also find additional legal aid here and you can search for a lawyer here.
Due to the serious and legally binding nature of filing for bankruptcy, you can’t really afford to leave anything to chance. Going through the bankruptcy process on your own provides few assurances. Paperwork could be misfiled; essential documentation could be missing from your case and you may not be adequately prepared to represent yourself at your bankruptcy hearing when face-to-face with creditors. Proper legal representation gives you all the assurances that you need. Bankruptcy attorneys have years, and in some cases, even decades, of experience. They know the ins and outs of bankruptcy laws and are the most qualified to complete the necessary steps of your bankruptcy filing and provide you with deep insight into how finest to manage any legalities related your case. In addition, because bankruptcy lawyer has malpractice insurance, in the unlikely event that a mistake occurs, you should any mistake be made, you can be compensated for any financial loss.
Legal matters require the highest level of professionalism. Each bankruptcy case is presented before a judge and involves several bankruptcy hearings, including one with your creditors. You need to present the most professional face possible if you want to your case to be heard and taken seriously in a court of law. Likewise, your tax documents need to be in order and all creditor meetings must be in attended. Missing even one could result in your bankruptcy filing being rejected. However, if you hire a bankruptcy attorney, the odds of anything going wrong are slim, as these highly skilled professionals are well-trained to handle all aspects of the bankruptcy process.
3. Legal Representation
There’s really no substitute for proper legal representation when it comes to filing for bankruptcy. Your lawyer can help you figure out if ad why bankruptcy may be right for you and is so, what type of bankruptcy you should file for based on the law and your specific financial situation. They will handle the preparation of your paperwork and file your case with the court. A bankruptcy attorney will also represent you in court, which means you don’t have to take time off to appear in court. Without legal representation, it is your responsibility to attend each hearing and represent yourself in court and in front of your creditors.
The number of people filing for bankruptcy fluctuates from year to year. In 2010, nearly 1.5 million people in the United States completed bankruptcy proceedings in federal courts. The vast majority of these were handled by a bankruptcy lawyer with years of experience. There are a lot of moving parts to successfully filing for bankruptcy. Filing for the correct type is one of the most important steps in the process and without the experience and legal counsel of a licensed attorney you could make a costly and time-consuming misstep. While you could go it alone, using an attorney and the benefit of their years of experience ensures that you start off on the right foot.
5. Bankruptcy Petition
Your bankruptcy petition is the first in filing for bankruptcy. Initiated in federal court, this critical step is usually started by the individual who is filing. However, in some cases creditors can force the filing, known as an involuntary bankruptcy. Your bankruptcy lawyer will help you choose the right petition form, enter the correct identifying information and data about whether or not you’ve completed credit counseling, among other essentials. They will also submit additional forms or “schedules” which include your income, assets, debts and transaction history. These forms must be submitted along with your bankruptcy petition or your case will be dismissed.
6. Review Income, Debts & Assets
Successfully filing for bankruptcy includes a lot of paperwork. Your lawyer will review income, debts and assets, all of which are key to your bankruptcy petition being accepted. As this information needs to be accurate and in accordance with federal bankruptcy requirements, a licensed attorney is the ideal person to help assess this data. Client-attorney privilege applies in bankruptcy proceedings so your lawyer can’t divulge any of your private information to unauthorized third parties. This is an especially important consideration in an age where the theft of personal information is increasingly common. With so much sensitive information like your debts & assets being processed, working with an attorney can really help put your mind at ease that every detail has been covered in a safe and confidential manner.
Tackling your bankruptcy on your own can be challenging to say the least. Paperwork must be filed in a timely manner, with all the necessary supporting documentation. Every court date must be attended and all communication between the court and yourself must be acknowledged and responded to in kind. However, with the help of a bankruptcy attorney, you don’t have to managing these responsibilities on your own. Your lawyer will manage communication between you and the court and make sure that your creditors are formally advised on your bankruptcy proceeding and their rights to monies owed. Should your creditors have any questions, they can contact your bankruptcy lawyer directly via the contact information in the letter that they receive, thereby, eliminating the need for you to speak with them yourself.