To Hire or Not to Hire a Bankruptcy Attorney
While bankruptcy cases all share certain similarities, there are different types of bankruptcy, and each bankruptcy case should be evaluated individually when considering the need to hire a bankruptcy attorney. Usually, the legal services of a bankruptcy lawyer are not a requirement in filing for bankruptcy, but there are particular cases when taking that route is necessary. For instance, it’s a good investment to get legal counsel for bankruptcy filings involving Chapter 13, certain assets of significant value, accusations of fraud, and filers who need assistance going through the bankruptcy process.
The Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer
What can bankruptcy lawyers do for their clients? Generally, it’s their job to look after their clients’ interests and protect their rights. Specifically, bankruptcy law attorneys help their clients get the best possible outcome from their bankruptcy.
If you’re hiring a bankruptcy lawyer, what are some of the services you can expect?
- Review and evaluate your case to advise you regarding your bankruptcy options.
- Explain the process and walk you through the bankruptcy proceedings of the pertinent bankruptcy chapter.
- Help you accomplish bankruptcy forms and prepare your petition for bankruptcy with the bankruptcy court.
- Ensure that you get to hold on to the property you want to keep, considering New Jersey’s bankruptcy exemptions.
- Attend the Meeting of Creditors with you or for you.
- Take care of difficult creditors who disregard the automatic stay and continue their debt collection efforts.
- Prevent case dismissal by the bankruptcy court.
Bankruptcy Pro Se
Bankruptcy pro se or bankruptcy without legal representation is definitely an option for New Jersey debtors whose financial problems may be pushing them to file for bankruptcy without the expense of a lawyer’s services. If you feel that you can’t pay for attorney fees, you can opt to file pro se, but understand that you will have to put in more effort and do plenty of research to avoid making mistakes.
If your case is simple and straightforward, involving a Chapter 7 filing, few assets, and no accusations of fraud, you can certainly opt to file on your own. It would be to your advantage, however, to at least consult a lawyer to get an idea of what you’re up against.
When to Hire a Lawyer
Nonetheless, there are circumstances that truly call for legal counsel. As mentioned, Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings, business bankruptcy filings, and cases involving significant assets are more complicated and best conducted with legal representation.
A lawyer is certainly in order if your bankruptcy trustee accuses you of bankruptcy fraud, which doesn’t only disqualify your case, but leaves you liable to receive civil or criminal penalties. This is something that could be avoided with guidance from an attorney right at the start.
If you feel that your case is simple enough, you can opt to hire a bankruptcy petition preparer instead. A petition preparer can help you complete forms and submit the proper documents. A non-lawyer preparer presumably doesn’t know enough about bankruptcy laws to advise you on the steps to take for the best outcome, as well as have the authority to represent you throughout the process. Laws vary from state to state, so it’s best to have a New Jersey bankruptcy attorney guide you in the entire undertaking.
What to Expect After Bankruptcy
After you get a discharge, don’t expect to be totally out of debt. Chapter 7, in particular, has a shorter list of dischargeable debts. The following details the types of debt that remain even after a bankruptcy discharge:
- Some tax debts
- Student loan from the government
- Government fines
- Government tax liens
- Child support
- Cooperative housing fees
- Debt from causing injury with a motor vehicle
Chapter 13 may have a longer list, but it’s also possible not to come out of this type of bankruptcy absolutely debt-free. Nevertheless, any debt relief that bankruptcy brings is still significant. It gives you a chance to start over, armed with debt management lessons for a better financial future.
Keep in mind, as well, that the bankruptcy will linger on your credit report for a few years, so that’s a potential obstacle you also have to overcome.
Contact a New Jersey Attorney for a Smoother Bankruptcy Process
Bankruptcies can be a stressful endeavor. It’s good to obtain legal help to guide you through the process from beginning to end. For legal assistance on bankruptcy issues, call us at Lucid Law and arrange for a free consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.