If you’re planning to file for bankruptcy, you can always do so without a lawyer, bu it isn’t always a good idea. Whether your case falls under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you can end up spending more than you’d ever save not hiring an attorney.
If you want to know how exactly a bankruptcy lawyer can help you, the following should give you a good idea:
Stage I – Planning
The first thing a bankruptcy lawyer will do for a client is to determine which type of bankruptcy case to file. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases are unique from each other, both in terms of the specific scenarios involved, and the main goals to be achieved. For instance, most of your debts can be offset by Chapter 7, but it can’t save a house that you haven’t paid for completely. In any case, a bankruptcy lawyer will advise you on the best path to take.
Stage II – Preparation
Do you know how to value your possessions, such as your antique dining table or your flatscreen TV? With a lawyer, your assets will be declared and valued as accurately as possible.
Applying for Exemptions
A lawyer is the best person to decide how your state’s exemption rules can be used to protect as much of your assets as possible.
There are some debts that won’t be eliminated or discharged in bankruptcy. Others can be wiped out only when specific conditions are met. An attorney will be able to explain which are which.
Step III – Bankruptcy Filing
Scheduling and Paperwork
Filing for bankruptcy requires filing pages of financial information pertaining to your debts, costs, income, assets and all your latest financial transactions.
A bankruptcy lawyer can advise you on many things like tax returns to provide, valuing of assets, determining expenses as “reasonable and necessary,” etc.
Ensuring a Full and Accurate Testimony
When talking to your creditors or in court, you’ll be required to affirm the truth behind your statements or claims. In other words, when you have a legal expert checking the accuracy and completeness of your testimony, you don’t need to worry about perjury charges.
Dealing with Creditors Who Violate The Automatic Stay
Even if you’ve filed for bankruptcy, some creditors may continue collecting, and that is a violation of the law. If that happens, a lawyer will know what legal remedies to take against the creditor.
Negotiating with Creditors
Finally, in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your lawyer can work out a reaffirmation agreement or a redemption with a secured credit provider that lets you keep your home or car. For a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your lawyer will talk to your creditors regarding payment terms, the required collateral and more affordable interest rates.