Why should I hire a bankruptcy attorney?

When filing for bankruptcy, there are a myriad of rules and regulations that must be adhered to. If regulations aren’t met and technical missteps are made, the errors can be costly in regards to a debtor’s rights. If you’re filing for bankruptcy, you have the right to file without the help of an attorney, also known as filing pro se. However, doing so may have long-term financial and legal repercussions. When filing for bankruptcy, here are five reasons why seeking legal counsel is a must:

Understanding the Different Types of Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy involves deciding between the different types of bankruptcy options. U.S. Bankruptcy Code offers five different bankruptcy filing options – Chapter 7, 9, 11, 12, and 13. Each type of bankruptcy is completely different, and offers different options regarding status (individual or business), debt extinguishment, and payment options. Having a thorough understanding of the types of bankruptcy available, and regulations and rules associated with each is critical. An attorney can help you to understand the different types of bankruptcy, and provide you guidance regarding which type is most suitable for your financial needs.

Avoiding Bankruptcy Fraud

Bankruptcy fraud is a serious crime in the United States, punishable by both civil penalties (such as loss of exemptions) and criminal penalties (like prison time or fines). If, when filing for bankruptcy, you do not disclose all property and assets, falsify information or records, or fail to fill out your bankruptcy forms accurately, truthfully, and completely, you may be at risk of committing bankruptcy fraud. In order to ensure that you avoid both civil and criminal penalties associated with bankruptcy fraud, it is essential that an attorney review your forms prior to submittal.

Filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is much more straightforward and simple than Chapter 13 bankruptcy is.  If you are filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you should know that doing so is much more complex and labor intensive, and requires constructing a realistic payment plan that can be presented to creditors. Additionally, if alterations to a mortgage or car loan are included in your bankruptcy needs, the paperwork is even more intense. Essentially, filing for Chapter13 bankruptcy requires an extensive understanding of bankruptcy law; if you are not trained in bankruptcy law, it is highly advised that you seek legal counsel.

As a note, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can also be complex if you are a business owner, have a high number of assets, have non-dischargeable debts, or have income that may disqualify you from filing.

Fulfilling Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Requirements

In order to file for bankruptcy, both credit counseling and post-filing debtor education courses are required for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You must receive credit counseling from an approved agency prior to filing, and you cannot receive a discharge of debts until debtor education requirements have been fulfilled. If you fail to do either, your bankruptcy claim will be denied. If working with an attorney, your lawyer can help you to understand the differences between the two courses, and how to attend both.

Contact a Bankruptcy Attorney Today

Being buried in debt can be a very emotional and exhausting experience, as well as one that is scary and stressful. If you are facing overwhelming amounts of debt and are considering filing bankruptcy, it is within your best interest to retain the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney. An attorney can help to put an end to debt creditor harassment, explain your options for filing, help you to get all necessary documents and paperwork in order, and provide you with a straight-forward and stress-free solution to your financial problems.

Sources

http://www.uscourts.gov/FederalCourts/Bankruptcy/BankruptcyResources/FilingBankruptcyWithoutAttorney.aspx

http://www.uscourts.gov/FederalCourts/Bankruptcy/BankruptcyResources/BankruptcyFraudAndAbuse.aspx

2 Responses to Why Should I Hire a Bankruptcy Lawyer?
  1. I can definitely see the benefits of hiring a bankruptcy lawyer. I actually had no idea that there were four types of bankruptcy that you could file, so that shows my ignorance. If I ever need to file, I will make sure to hire a lawyer.

  2. I didn’t know that there were education courses required for filing chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy. If a lawyer could help me understand which chapter I needed to file for and which courses I was required to attend, I could see hiring a lawyer as very beneficial. In addition to that, I have read elsewhere that improper filing of bankruptcy could result in additional fines or even jail time. Since i’m not an expert, a lawyer that can interpret and help me understand how to file properly would be a huge asset.


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