In most cases, the attorney’s role in bankruptcy is an indispensable part of filing for bankruptcy. A bankruptcy attorney has several functions throughout the process and can help a client determine the best courses of action. Bankruptcy is a very complex legal procedure and mistakes can have serious consequences. Even slight mistakes may cause a judge to dismiss the case or cause the person filing to lose important assets, such as a home or car. Experienced attorneys make sure that no mistakes are made and clients’ assets are protected to the full extent of the law.
Bankruptcy Attorney’s ROle is to Help You Understand The Bankruptcy Process
One of the most important functions of a bankruptcy attorney is explaining the bankruptcy process to clients. Before speaking to an attorney, most people have only a vague understanding of bankruptcy law. They know that it can help them eliminate debt, but they are not fully aware of the consequences and available options. Bankruptcy may not be the right decision in every situation. For some individuals, debt settlement may be more beneficial, and most bankruptcy lawyers can start such a program. Not everyone is aware that individuals have a choice of two different types of bankruptcy: chapter 7 and chapter 13. Both types have different sets of benefits, but one is almost always a better choice over the other when considering an individual’s specific situation. We even have zero down options.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is sometimes referred to as straight bankruptcy, but it is also known as liquidation bankruptcy. In chapter 7, the debtor agrees that his or her assets will be sold, and the proceeds will be split amongst the creditors. Certain personal assets are protected, such as a level of equity in a home, a personal vehicle and personal effects. Even if the value of the assets falls short of the money owed, the total debt is discharged. Chapter 7 bankruptcy usually only takes a few months, and it eliminates nearly all forms of unsecured debt.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also known as debt adjustment bankruptcy. It is actually a form of debt consolidation mandated through the court. In chapter 13 bankruptcy, debts are consolidated and adjusted so that the debtor makes a single monthly payment for three to five years. At the end of the term, the debts are fully settled. This type of bankruptcy is very advantageous for those who have a steady income and assets they would like to protect.
Explaining the Bankruptcy Process
Bankruptcy lawyers handle every phase of the bankruptcy process. In chapter 7 bankruptcy, the process begins with an approved class for credit counseling. An attorney will set up an appointment for this to be done. Once it is completed, it is time to prepare the petition and supporting documents. In some cases, the petition can be up to 60 pages in length. After the petition is filed, creditors are barred from contacting a debtor. If a creditor does contact the debtor, an attorney can usually prevent that specific creditor from doing so again. The next step in the process is the meeting of creditors with the trustee. The trustee is in charge of handling the details of the bankruptcy case. It is the trustee that usually makes the decisions in a bankruptcy case because the judge rarely goes against the trustee’s recommendations. If any creditors object to the debt discharge, an attorney can defend a debtor’s position. After the meeting of creditors is settled, the debtor must take a financial management course before the discharge is complete.
Filing without an Attorney
Filing personal bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 takes careful preparation and understanding of legal issues. Misunderstandings of the law or making mistakes in the process can affect your rights. Court employees and bankruptcy judges are prohibited by law from offering legal advice. The following is a list of ways your lawyer can help you with your case.
- Advise you on whether to file a bankruptcy petition.
- Advise you under which chapter to file.
- Advise you on whether your debts can be discharged.
- Advise you on whether or not you will be able to keep your home, car, or other property after you file.
- Advise you of the tax consequences of filing.
- Advise you on whether you should continue to pay creditors.
- Explain bankruptcy law and procedures to you.
- Help you complete and file forms.
- Assist you with most aspects of your bankruptcy case.
Pro se litigants are expected to follow the rules and procedures in federal courts and should be familiar with the United States Bankruptcy Code the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and the local rules of the court in which the case is filed. Local rules, along with other useful information, are posted on the court’s website and are available at the local court’s intake counter. Court employees and bankruptcy judges are prohibited by law from offering legal advice. Bankruptcy Forms are available to the public free of charge. • Use the forms that are numbered in the 100 series to file bankruptcy for individuals or married couples. • Use the forms that are numbered in the 200 series if you are preparing a bankruptcy on behalf of a non-individual, such as a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC). • Sole proprietors must use the forms that are numbered in the 100 series. Many courts require local forms. You should check your court’s website before filing any documents.
Non-attorney Petition Preparers
If you file bankruptcy pro se, you may be offered services by non-attorney petition preparers. By law, preparers can only enter information into forms. They are prohibited from providing legal advice, explaining answers to legal questions, or assisting you in bankruptcy court. A petition preparer must sign all documents they prepare for you; print their name, address and social security on the documents; and provide you with a copy of all documents. They cannot sign documents on your behalf or receive payment for court fees.
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