Filing for bankruptcy is a great way to get out from under burdensome debt, and most people feel a tremendous sense of relief when their bankruptcy case is over. But understanding the process and filling out the bankruptcy forms can be daunting.
That's where a bankruptcy lawyer comes in. Not only will you receive legal advice, but a bankruptcy attorney will handle the paperwork from start to finish. Below are some of the most common types of services you can expect from your bankruptcy lawyer.
If you're unsure how much you should pay, read Average Attorney Fees in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.
Not all bankruptcy cases are complicated, but they aren't all easy, either. Either way, your bankruptcy lawyer should have the skill level necessary to handle your case.
In general, the difficulty of your bankruptcy will depend on:
One way to find out if it's a good fit is to ask whether the lawyer has represented clients in similar situations in the past.
In general, your "retainer agreement" or the contract you and your attorney sign will outline the services your bankruptcy attorney will provide. Your attorney's job is also to provide you with competent advice throughout the bankruptcy process.
First, you can expect your attorney to tell you whether filing for bankruptcy would be in your best interest. If it is, you should also learn:
Most importantly, if you have any questions, you can expect your attorney to respond to your calls or emails promptly.
Filing for bankruptcy requires you to complete a lengthy packet of forms. Almost all bankruptcy attorneys have specialized software that prepares and files your required bankruptcy paperwork with the court.
You'll provide your attorney with all of your financial information, such as income, expense, asset, and debt information. Your lawyer will use it to prepare the official forms and then go over the completed paperwork with you to ensure accuracy.
You might have to provide additional forms or documents to the court or the bankruptcy trustee. Your attorney will make sure to do so promptly because missing a bankruptcy deadline can cause:
For these reasons, one of the responsibilities of your bankruptcy attorney is to know the local rules and filing procedures.
After filing for bankruptcy, all debtors must attend a mandatory hearing called the 341 meeting of creditors. But, depending on your case, you (or your attorney) might need to go to additional hearings.
Some common types of hearings you can expect your attorney to represent you at:
In most cases, before you file your bankruptcy case, your attorney will be able to advise you about the hearings you can anticipate attending.
The easiest way to decide your best course is by speaking with a bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy professional will help you weigh and balance your needs and help you determine whether it would be more beneficial to file for Chapter 7 or 13 or explore another option.
Did you know Nolo has been making the law easy for over fifty years? It's true—and we want to make sure you find what you need. Below you'll find more articles explaining how bankruptcy works. And don't forget that our bankruptcy homepage is the best place to start if you have other questions!
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We wholeheartedly encourage research and learning, but online articles can't address all bankruptcy issues or the facts of your case. The best way to protect your assets in bankruptcy is by hiring a local bankruptcy lawyer.