If you're considering filing for bankruptcy, you may have to face quite a few tough decisions.
One of the easy ones, however, should be deciding whether or not to hire a bankruptcy attorney. While it's certainly possible to handle your own bankruptcy, you may be biting off more than you can chew.
How so? Here are five things a bankruptcy attorney can do that you probably can't:
- Know when (and when not) to file for bankruptcy. Sometimes the best bankruptcy is the one you don't file. Many people jump into bankruptcy without knowing the kinds of debts can and can't be discharged by bankruptcy or the possible alternatives to bankruptcy that may accomplish the same financial goals with far fewer long-term consequences. A bankruptcy attorney can look at the details of your unique situation and help you explore your potential options.
- Determine which type of bankruptcy is right for you. Choosing between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be difficult. Which one best suits your needs depends on the type of debt you are trying to discharge, the specific goals of your bankruptcy, your financial situation, and a litany of other factors. A bankruptcy lawyer will be able to help match your needs with the right type of bankruptcy.
- Handle all your paperwork (it can get a bit out of hand). Bankruptcies require the completion of an awe-inspiring amount of legal paperwork, with multiple varieties of petitions, exhibits, and forms -- all of which will need to be completed accurately, completely, and in a timely manner in order for your case to proceed. A lawyer can gather your information and complete all your paperwork quickly and correctly, so you don't have to worry about making mistakes.
- Keep you out of trouble. Making false declarations in a bankruptcy case can land you in jail. If you try to hide money during a bankruptcy, you run the risk of being charged with fraud and making your financial situation far worse than it already is. A lawyer will help you make the best of your situation legally, without having to resort to fabrications or falsehoods.
- Represent you in court and beyond. A bankruptcy attorney will represent you in court and negotiate with your creditors, but it doesn't stop there. Your bankruptcy lawyer can continue to help you even after your bankruptcy is complete by assisting you in complying with the terms of your bankruptcy or protecting you against creditors who attempt to collect discharged debts.
Making a mistake in a bankruptcy case can cause major problems at a time when you can least afford them. Consulting with an experienced bankruptcy attorney is to best way to ensure that your bankruptcy goes according to plan.
- What Is Bankruptcy? (FindLaw)
- 3 Things to Know About Bankruptcy (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Which Debts Can Be Discharged in a Business Bankruptcy? (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
- The FindLaw Guide to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (FindLaw - Free Download)