People who are considering bankruptcy are generally trying to hold on to as much money as possible. When you are dealing with overwhelming financial problems, the last thing you probably want to do is pay costly lawyer fees to help with your bankruptcy case. While you always have the right to file on your own and without legal representation, there are numerous benefits to hiring a bankruptcy lawyer. In addition, many bankruptcy lawyers do not charge extravagant hourly fees, and you should be well-aware of their fees before you ever sign an agreement.
Benefits of Working with a Bankruptcy Lawyer
In the end, the benefits of having an experienced lawyer can well outweigh the cost of the attorney’s fee, and the following are only five of the many benefits of working with a bankruptcy lawyer.
1. Planning for Bankruptcy
You should never simply jump into a bankruptcy case without planning ahead and fully understanding all of the implications. An attorney can assist you with bankruptcy planning in the following ways:
Determine whether there are other debt-relief options. It is important to explore whether any alternatives to bankruptcy will provide the debt relief you need. An experienced lawyer can examine your situation and advise whether negotiating settlements with creditors might resolve most of your problems without a full bankruptcy case. Your lawyer will inform you whether it really is necessary to pursue bankruptcy.
Decide which type of bankruptcy is right for you. There are two main types of consumer bankruptcy, and they are very different from one another. Chapter 7 is much shorter than Chapter 13, and it does not require a repayment plan. However, not everyone qualifies for Chapter 7, and Chapter 7 may not accomplish all of your financial goals, such as potentially saving your home. A lawyer who is familiar with both types of bankruptcy can weigh all the factors and determine which is right for your situation.
2. Bankruptcy Preparation
Once you decide to file, a lot of preparation goes into properly starting the process. First, bankruptcy paperwork requires highly detailed information regarding your debts, income, assets, and property. Even small mistakes can cause serious issues in your case, including delays or even a case dismissal. If you omit information or provide false information, you might even face allegations of bankruptcy fraud. An attorney will know how to complete all of the paperwork, compile your supporting documentation, and more.
In addition, a bankruptcy lawyer will know how to complete the means test in an accurate manner to help you qualify for a Chapter 7 case when possible. Your lawyer will also understand the best way to value your property and apply exemptions so you can keep as much as possible in a Chapter 7 case.
3. Representation from a Bankruptcy Lawyer During the Case
Bankruptcy is a legal process governed by federal laws and overseen by the federal courts. For this reason, it is critical to know and comply with all relevant laws and court procedures. You will also need to engage in communications with the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case – and possibly, the bankruptcy judge. Every communication should be carefully handled, as any information shared can impact your case.
Legal representation can ensure that all testimony is accurate and represent you at the creditors meeting and at any necessary court hearings. A lawyer will know all the necessary requirements you must meet for a discharge and will protect your interests throughout the process. If any issues arise, the right attorney can mitigate the impact on your case.
In a Chapter 13 case, it is imperative to have a skilled bankruptcy lawyer negotiating your repayment plan to ensure it is fair, and you are able to complete the plan. If your financial circumstances change during your Chapter 13 case, a lawyer can work with the trustee to modify your plan, so you are still on the path to discharge. Without legal guidance, many things can go wrong, and your bankruptcy case can be significantly more stressful.
4. Addressing Residual Financial and Legal Issues
In some cases, creditors may disregard a debt discharge and may continue to attempt to collect a discharged debt or report late payments on your credit. Your lawyer will know how to petition the court for injunctive relief to stop this type of situation.
In addition, bankruptcy will not always clear up all of your financial issues. For example, bankruptcy will not discharge the balance of your mortgage, and some people still face the possibility of foreclosure during and after a bankruptcy case. Some bankruptcy lawyers – such as the Cornwall Law Firm – also handle foreclosure defense. Your lawyer will be able to negotiate for a possible mortgage modification or seek other solutions that allow you to keep you home.
5. Guidance Post-Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy lawyers have seen firsthand how cases affect filers. They can often advise you about the effects of bankruptcy on your credit, and provide suggestions for rebuilding credit in a responsible and successful manner. Their goal is to set you up for financial success and put you in the best possible position moving forward.
In short, bankruptcy lawyers make every step of your case easier for you. Their goal is to obtain a discharge of your debts, and they know the steps to take – and not to take – to do just that. Without legal guidance, you can accidentally make many mistakes that cause snags in the bankruptcy process, and that may even prevent a successful outcome.
Learn the Many Ways an Atlanta Bankruptcy Lawyer Can Help You
If you are struggling to pay your debts and are wondering about your debt-relief options, you should never hesitate to contact the Cornwall Law Firm in Atlanta. Consultations are free, and there is no obligation to retain our services. This means you have nothing to lose by discussing your situation and having our attorney evaluate your best debt-relief options. Call 404-791-4449 or contact us online to get started on your path to financial freedom as soon as possible. We are ready to assist you and your family through a free consultation.