A bankruptcy lawyer will help you file the right type of bankruptcy to erase your debt or reorganize it for easier repayment. A good first impression is important – look for an attorney who treats you with respect, listens to your questions and answers them clearly.
Bankruptcy paperwork is complex. A lawyer will review it to make sure everything is accurate. They also know state exemption laws to protect assets like pensions, social security and unemployment benefits.
1. Representation in Court
A bankruptcy attorney is a lawyer who gives legal advice about bankruptcy, prepares legal documents for a client and represents the client in bankruptcy court. While it is technically possible to file for bankruptcy without a lawyer, doing so could result in serious financial consequences. Generally, individuals who represent themselves in bankruptcy court have a lower success rate than those who hire an attorney.
Many people filing for bankruptcy are in a stressful situation because of a life event such as a job loss or a health crisis that left them with huge medical bills. The last thing they need to worry about is dealing with complicated paperwork. A bankruptcy attorney can handle all of the paperwork for a client and make sure everything is filed correctly and in time.
In addition, a good bankruptcy attorney will know how to protect assets from creditors and ensure the client is protected from losing valuable items in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. They will also be able to recommend less drastic ways to resolve debt issues if the situation does not call for filing bankruptcy.
2. Filing the Right Type of Bankruptcy
Depending on the type of bankruptcy filed, debts can be lowered, erased, or reorganized for payment. The first step is for an attorney to evaluate your financial situation, including the amount and types of debts you owe. This is the only way to make an informed assessment of whether filing for bankruptcy is the right move. He will also be able to give advice about which assets you may lose and which property you can keep.
Many people file bankruptcy because of a large financial setback, such as a divorce or a medical emergency that left them with huge bills they could not afford. A bankruptcy trustee will examine your financial records and if he determines you lack the means to pay your debt, he can liquidate (or sell) some or all of your nonexempt assets. An experienced attorney will help you properly compile the required paperwork and truthfully disclose all of your assets so that you don’t face criminal charges for fraud or perjury.
3. Representation in Meetings with Creditors
When you hire a bankruptcy attorney they are there to represent your interests and make sure you are treated with respect. They will also know all the ins and outs of filing a bankruptcy case including important deadlines, paperwork requirements, the 341 meeting of creditors and other details.
In addition, they will be able to negotiate with your creditors. For example, if you have secured debt (like your house or car) a good bankruptcy attorney will be able to work with your creditor to reduce the balance or even lower the interest rate so that you can keep those assets. They will also be able to value your property and use the appropriate exemptions to protect as much of your property as possible. This is a complex area of the law and it takes an experienced lawyer to handle it well. When you first meet your prospective bankruptcy attorney you will want to have financial numbers ready so they can assess the situation and help you decide if bankruptcy is right for you.
4. Filing the Right Form of Bankruptcy
If you are struggling to keep up with your debt and have considered filing for bankruptcy, it is important to have an experienced bankruptcy attorney to help guide you through the process. Bankruptcy is complicated and mistakes can be costly.
A good lawyer will make the filing process easier, faster and more successful. They will also make sure you file the right type of bankruptcy, either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
There are several steps to filing for bankruptcy, including completing credit counseling prior to filing, preparing and submitting more than 20 bankruptcy forms and attending a meeting with creditors called a 341 meeting.
A qualified bankruptcy attorney in Harrisburg PA can ensure that you take the proper steps to protect your assets and qualify for exemptions. They will understand how to value property such as vehicles and real estate, choose and apply state exemption rules and determine which of your debts get wiped out or eliminated in bankruptcy.