Bankruptcy isn’t a DIY project. Filing for bankruptcy can help you relieve the burden of debt, but most people need to hire a bankruptcy attorney to get through the maze. Lawyers are experts in the bankruptcy process and are able to make suggestions and offer advice based on your unique situation. Not only does a bankruptcy attorney offer you legal advice and counsel, they handle all your bankruptcy paperwork from start to finish. Here’s what you can expect when working with a bankruptcy lawyer.
Knowledge: Not all bankruptcies are complicated, but they’re not always easy and straightforward. Your attorney has dealt with cases ranging from the most basic to the extremely complex, and as a result, they have the skills and competency to handle your case, regardless of what type of situation you bring to the table. When describing your finances to your potential attorney, share more rather than less. It’s important to note whether you own a small business or other assets. Share all of your credit history, as well as any tax debt, foreclosures or pending lawsuits. Once you’ve given a full picture of your financial situation, ask if the lawyer has represented similar clients in the past.
Sound legal counsel: The retainer contract that you and a lawyer sign will clarify the services that they will be expected to provide. Included in that contract is the offering of good legal advice and honest direction based on your situation. You should expect a lawyer to help you understand whether Chapter 7, 13 or another type of bankruptcy is best, based on where you are now and where you want to be in the future. They should give you information up front about what the entire process traditionally looks like and warn you of any risks that you may encounter along the way.
Resource for questions and concerns: In addition to offering advice, your lawyer should be responsive to your calls and emails to answer your questions and address your concerns. Even if you’ve decided to go with their recommendation, you can still contact them with follow up questions, to ask for clarity, or to express concerns. Your lawyer is the expert, but they work for you, so it’s important to have a team mentality around your relationship.
Preparation and filing of paperwork: Filing for bankruptcy requires a lot of legal paperwork. Not only are bankruptcy attorneys experts on the requirements of filing paperwork, nearly all of them have specialized software to prepare and file your bankruptcy forms. You provide financial information to your attorney including income, expenses, assets and debt information. Your lawyer uses that information to prepare all the official forms necessary and reviews the paperwork with you to ensure it’s accurate. Your lawyer will make sure any subsequent forms or documents are taken care of, and they will make sure that filing deadlines are met. A missed deadline could mean delays, dismissal or other repercussions. Having a lawyer who’s an expert in the local filing laws of your area is a key responsibility of their job.
Representation at your hearings: After filing for bankruptcy, filers need to attend a mandatory meeting referred to as the 341 meeting of creditors. Depending on your case, you or your attorney may need to attend additional hearings. The most common types of hearings where you would be represented by a lawyer include Chapter 13 confirmation hearings; Chapter 7 reaffirmation hearings; or other motion and objection hearings filed by either you, your creditors or the trustee. Most of the time, your attorney will prepare you for the timing of hearings, what your role will be, and anything else you need to know.
A good lawyer is truly a good investment. In addition to helping you with the actual paperwork and preparing you for hearings and other bankruptcy issues, they can often serve as a sounding board for questions and advice. Just knowing that you have an expert on your side can go a long way toward alleviating the stress associated with debt and bankruptcy. They can help you understand options and alternatives, decide which type of bankruptcy you need to file for, and even help you negotiate with creditors or work to reconfigure your payment plans. Ultimately, your lawyer is an educator and link to understanding and navigating the complicated world of bankruptcy. A qualified lawyer will be able to answer your questions and be available to walk you through every step of the process.
You can count on our bankruptcy expertise to help you navigate your way out of debt. It’s important to have an experienced partner in the bankruptcy process. Our team is dedicated to helping you find your way to a better financial future. Contact us today for a free quote to get started.