What to Expect from a Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you’re thinking of filing for bankruptcy, you have the option not to hire a lawyer, but that isn’t always smart. Whether you’re a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, filing without an attorney can cost you more than you’d save.
If you want to know what exactly a bankruptcy lawyer can do for you, here are fairly good ideas:
Stage I – Planning
Any bankruptcy lawyer will always begin by determining the type of bankruptcy case that must be filed, depending on the specifics at hand. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are meant for various scenarios and objectives. 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 recommend the best course of action to help you achieve your goals.
Stage II – Preparation
Do you know how to value your possessions, such as your antique dining table or your flatscreen TV? A lawyer will make sure that your assets are disclosed and valued realistically.
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 certain debts that don’t get 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 Documentation
When you file for bankruptcy, you need to file pages of financial information related to your debts, income, assets and every single financial transaction you had within the past few months (from date of filing).
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 you speak in court or even during meetings with your creditors, you will swear that you’re telling the truth. In simple terms, an attorney will make sure that your testimony is complete and accurate so you can avoid being charged with perjury.
Dealing with Creditors Who Violate The Automatic Stay
There are creditors who just won’t stop collecting even when the borrower has already filed for bankruptcy, and this is against the law. In such a case, a lawyer will know how to make these collectors behave.
Negotiating with Creditors
Finally, if you have a Chapter 7 case, your attorney can negotiate with a secured creditor that might allow you to keep your house as well as your car. If your case is a Chapter 13, your lawyer will negotiate with creditors regarding payment terms, interest rates and collateral requirements.