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Debt Relief – Insolvency – Bankruptcy Information » Uncategorized » When Do You Need a Bankruptcy Attorney?

When Do You Need a Bankruptcy Attorney?

While the United States bankruptcy code is full of clauses and requirements, you do not need a bankruptcy attorney to file bankruptcy.

Like most other types of law, anyone may represent themselves at any time. All of the required forms are available online.

However, that doesn’t mean that going it solo is necessarily your best option. Downloading the forms is one thing. Completing them accurately, submitting them properly and navigating the rest of the bankruptcy process – that is something completely different.

Getting your bankruptcy filing right the first time is very important because there are limits on how often you may file bankruptcy. If you file for bankruptcy but do not successfully complete the case you may be prevented from filing again for 7-10 years, even if you didn’t get the full benefits of clearing your debt.

So how do you know when should you reach out to a bankruptcy attorney for help? To answer this question, it may be helpful to know exactly what a bankruptcy lawyer may do for you and what you’ll have to do on your own.

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How may a bankruptcy lawyer may help:

Clearly explain state and federal bankruptcy laws and how they apply to you
Explain your debt relief options outside of bankruptcy
Help you ensure all deadlines are met and forms are accurate
Make appearances on your behalf in court: This may be helpful if your work schedule is rigid and may make it difficult to get out for trips to the court offices

Help you take full advantage of bankruptcy’s powers while avoiding common pitfalls
Help enforce the automatic stay so creditors stop collection efforts like phone calls, wage garnishment and even foreclosure

What will you have to do on your own in a bankruptcy filing:

Provide financial records and documents
Complete credit counseling course: This is a mandatory requirement for anyone filing bankruptcy. Before you officially file you must complete this class online, over the phone or in person.
Complete debtor education course: This is similar to the credit counseling course and must be completed after you file, but before your case is closed. This is sometimes called your “ticket out of bankruptcy” because it allows your case to be completed.
Meeting of creditors: At minimum you will likely need to appear at court offices to vouch that the information you provided is accurate. This is also a time when creditors may come forward and examine your claims or make objections, although in most cases creditors do not actually attend.

As you can see, a bankruptcy lawyer can’t do everything for you. What a lawyer can do is be a source of information and legal advice.

Bankruptcy is a complicated process, and you’ll likely only experience it once.  It probably isn’t feasible to try to become an expert on the law in time to take advantage of it.

That’s why so many of the 1.5 million people who filed for bankruptcy 2010 turned to a lawyer for help. Enlisting the service of lawyer doesn’t mean you’re giving up control of your life. The decisions will be still be yours to made, only now you may have more information.

So do you need a bankruptcy attorney? Like the other decisions, this one will be left up to you.

Based in Chicago, I am a legal writer for the Total Bankruptcy network with a focus on clear educational information about common legal concerns. My free time is spent taking advantage of the great things the city has to offer, particularly the live music.

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