The assistance of an experienced lawyer would greatly support most bankruptcy proceedings. A simple bankruptcy of just a few assets on your own can be managed. But if you have notable properties, are filing for Chapter 13, are accused of fraud, or have concerns, it’s a wise decision to employ a bankruptcy attorney.
Learn how your case can be helped by a bankruptcy lawyer, and consider other low-cost filing options.
A bankruptcy attorney’s role
To help ensure that your case gets the best possible result, a bankruptcy attorney can use their expertise.
In many different ways, they will assist you, including:
- Explaining your eligibility and choices.
- Explaining legal terms and the bankruptcy process.
- Completing legal forms and filing them.
- Helping you maintain valuable properties.
- Representing you at the creditors’ meeting.
- Stopping debtors from abusing you.
- Preventing the courts from withdrawing the case.
Handling bankruptcy without a lawyer
You will apply for bankruptcy pro se if you can’t afford an attorney to deal with your bankruptcy (without legal representation) (without legal representation). It’ll be easier to file for bankruptcy on your own if your case is easy. For instance, if you have limited assets, no creditors alleging fraud, and you plan to declare bankruptcy under Chapter 7, your case is unlikely to be dismissed.
It is always a smart option, therefore, to at least consult with a lawyer. When you need assistance later in the process, they will help you understand your situation and familiarize you with your choices.
When you need an attorney for bankruptcy
There are some cases in which you can almost always employ a lawyer. If you own a business, are filing for Chapter 13, or have substantial assets, going without a lawyer puts your belongings at risk and can end up prolonging the process.
Your case will be hurt by forgetting to report all your debts or by wrongly filing the bankruptcy forms, which would then be dismissed by the judge. You will also be liable for your debts if your case is dismissed.
Fraud in bankruptcy
Getting a lawyer is particularly vital if you are accused of fraud by the bankruptcy trustee. The trustee of the bankruptcy is the person named to supervise your case and look for any major issues. The trustee’s allegations may mean civil or even criminal penalties. Be upfront with all of your properties to stop allegations of fraud in the first place.
Low-cost bankruptcy options help
You do have some choices if your case is complicated and you don’t think you can afford a bankruptcy attorney. You should look for a pro bono attorney first. A lawyer can take on your case for a small fee, or maybe even for free if your income is below a certain level. Contact the nearest legal aid office to find such a lawyer.
Alternatively, you should contact the American Bankruptcy Institute, which will be able to put you in
touch with a reputable lawyer who would be able to support you as a community service.
Applying for free assistance means that the opportunities for your bankruptcy attorney are very restricted. You can, though, always strive to find a lawyer who can assist you in handling your debt in ways that could include not filing for bankruptcy at all.
To help you fill out and file the required paperwork, usually for a one-time fee of $100 to $200, you may also find a bankruptcy petition preparer. Bear in mind, however, that petition preparers normally do not have any formal legal training. In the long term, hiring an attorney to at least review your forms will save you time and money.
Possible Bankruptcy options
Don’t expect to be completely free from debt after your bankruptcy. Bankruptcy in Chapter 7 will free much of what you owe. But you do have to pay off certain kinds of debt, such as:
- Some forms of tax debt
- Student loans subsidized by the Government
- Fines for violating the laws
- Alimony and child support
- Housing fees for cooperatives
- Debt that you caused by the service of a car or another motor vehicle by causing personal injury
- Federal liens for taxes
Chapter 13 will assist you with some forms of debt that can not be affected by Chapter 7, such as debt related to deliberate property damage.
And if only a part of your debt has been discharged by your bankruptcy, you will still experience creditors’ relief. A bankruptcy on your credit record will, however, make it difficult to restore your assets in the future. It is a complicated process to file for bankruptcy, and particular bankruptcy laws differ from state to state. You are going to a trained lawyer if you have any doubts that you will navigate the process by yourself.