Do You Really Need a Bankruptcy Lawyer?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
The short answer to this? Probably.
The truth is that although some people opt to file on their own ("pro se") instead of a getting help from a bankruptcy lawyer for whatever reason, many folks mess up and put themselves in an even more difficult position. Many others find themselves in a discharge suit threatening their automatic stay. In other words, it gets complicated, you aren't always protected, and you could even wind up being sued. Furthermore, there are different types of bankruptcy for different types of circumstances, and they all have different qualifications.
Things to Consider
Bankruptcy is a very big decision, but it has been the saving grace for some individuals who are drowning in debt. With that said, when it comes to bankruptcy, there is bad that comes with the good.
There is a plethora of information online to help you decide this, but hopefully, you have the time and ability to completely understand and consider everything you need to know. A large amount of necessary paperwork and bookkeeping is necessary to file for bankruptcy, and don't forget that continued compliance with important deadlines is necessary. Sometimes litigation is necessary, as well.
With the help of an attorney, you can leave all the dirty work to them and rest assured that it is getting done right. By focusing their practice in the area of bankruptcy, they know how to fight for the best possible outcome for your situation. Things can go much more smoothly with their help.
If you hire a lawyer you can expect the following:
- A consultation to review your income, debts, and assets and plan your best strategy if you should file for bankruptcy.
- Your newly contracted lawyer will prepare your petition (which will include ensuring that all crucial documents are collected) and file it on the appropriate date.
- Your lawyer will represent you at the 341 hearing (aka Meeting of Creditors)
- They will help facilitate communication between you and the trustee, and this includes objections, motions to dismiss bankruptcy, handling objections by creditors, cease and desist letters to creditors, and encouraging enforcement of a stay by the Court.
- They will monitor, inform, and help you process your bankruptcy discharge.
Benefits of Bankruptcy:
- It can wipe out credit card debt and most unsecured debts:
- Medical debt
- Overdue utility payments
- Many contracts
- Personal loans
- Remaining debt can be minimized or put on hold
- It MIGHT halt an eviction
- It can stop a foreclosure or repossession through the "automatic stay" via Chapter 13, but not Chapter 7
- Chapter 13 can "cram down" secured debts
Negative effects of bankruptcy:
- Your credit history is going to show your bankruptcy for the next 10 years.
- For 7 years, your credit file will continue to hold records of all bankruptcy filing and all third-party collection debts, judgments, and liens that were discharged
What Bankruptcy does NOT do:
- It does not relieve you of your mortgage.
- Back child support is not wiped clean.
- If you are filing for Chapter 7, your property is not protected and could still be taken.
- It almost never relieves student loan debt. (But keep in mind that it can relieve other types of debt for those struggling with student loans).
For more information about the different types of bankruptcy, go here to read our article about this.
Are You Considering Filing For Bankruptcy?
If you are tired of all of the phone calls from creditors, and if you feel like it is time to find your way out from under overwhelming debt, bankruptcy could be a viable option for you. If you aren't sure, reach out to a bankruptcy lawyer for help. What is so important to know is that most bankruptcy attorneys offer free consultations, and that often means that you could at least get some free legal advice. Many offer a custom payment plan that best suits each client. Don't let fear of attorney fees put you in limbo as you wade through the confusing demands that come with filing for bankruptcy. Give yourself a greater chance of success with a legal professional on your side.