Do You Trust That The Attorney Can Achieve Your Goals
Hiring a stranger, in any situation, involves a leap of faith. But having done your research online and having met with the attorney, you should have some sense of whether or not the attorney knows what he or she is doing. Does he or she have experience in bankruptcy law? Is he or she detailed oriented or clumsy? Did he or she graduate from Harvard or from an unaccredited college? Dont be distracted by a sharply pressed suit and a firm handshake. Decide objectively.;
Focus On Bankruptcy Attorneys With Local Expertise
Besides being familiar with bankruptcy laws, the attorney should be familiar with the local laws of the court where your bankruptcy case will be filed. Bankruptcy procedures tend to vary from locality to locality. Thats why you should look for a bankruptcy attorney who has practiced in your filing locality. They can use their knowledge of the local court procedures and personnel to your benefit.
Filing Without An Attorney
Individuals can file bankruptcy without an attorney, which is called filing pro se.;However, seeking the advice of a qualified attorney is strongly recommended because bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal outcomes.
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.
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 nonindividual, such as a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company .
- Sole proprietors must use the forms that are numbered in the 100 series.;
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What Is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the process by which an individual is allowed to undertake a reorganization of their finances. An individual can seek Chapter 13 bankruptcy when they have sufficient income to make payments to their creditors under a repayment plan.
In a Chapter 13 proceeding, the debtor begins making payments to a trustee appointed by the bankruptcy court. The debtor must also present the court with a proposed repayment plan lasting either three or five years. The plan must be approved by the debtors creditors. It can also be approved by the bankruptcy court, over the objections of creditors, so long as the plan meets the requirements under Chapter 13.
Under a Chapter 13 repayment plan, a debtor can:
- Consolidate debts
- Pay back taxes over time
- Partially repay unsecured debt
If the debtor makes all payments required under the repayment plan and meets other requirements, the bankruptcy court can discharge outstanding debts, including some debts that cannot be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy also has the benefit of allowing a debtor to keep most or all of their property and assets which would sold off in a Chapter 7 liquidation even though the debtors creditors are likely to receive less than the outstanding balances owed by the debtor.
Benefits Of Working With A Bankruptcy Lawyer
If youre struggling financially, bankruptcy may seem like the most direct way to solve the problem. A good bankruptcy lawyer can help determine if another option would actually be better for your situation.
Bankruptcy should be your final option, not your first, says Ashley Morgan, a bankruptcy attorney in Northern Virginia.
A lawyer can help you assess your financial situation to determine whether other debt relief alternatives might be in your best interest. And if bankruptcy is your best route, a lawyer can tell you whether you qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
If you choose to move forward with bankruptcy proceedings, an attorney can guide you through the process.
During the process, an attorney can help with the following:
- Provide advice about the best time to file bankruptcy, so you dont end up in a worse financial situation than before you filed.
- Offer guidance on assets. When you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, certain assets are exempt from the proceedings, which means you get to keep them. Your lawyer should understand which exemptions you qualify for and help you not lose assets unnecessarily.
- Help complete paperwork thats required to file your bankruptcy petition.
- Represent you at the meeting of creditors.
Above all, the bankruptcy lawyer helps you navigate what can be a complicated process for the uninitiated.
You have an advocate in your corner whos there to make sure youre treated right at the end of the day, Morgan says.
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Look For Lower Interest Rates Or Balance Transfer Cards
When shopping around for credit card lenders, always look for the lowest interest rate you can find and get approved for. This is important because having a lower interest rate on your debt means it costs you less to borrow money. Because of this, itâs often quicker and easier to pay off. It takes time to pay off a loan with a lower interest rate because more of your payment is applied to the principal .
Before considering a balance transfer, make sure you know the interest rates on all your loans and credit cards. Donât let fear keep you in the dark about what you owe your creditors. Knowing your interest rates will help you make a plan to manage and pay off your debt. If you find that your credit card with the lowest interest rate isnât maxed out, consider doing a balance transfer to move your debt from higher interest rate cards to this lower interest rate card. A balance transfer can help you save money on interest charges.
You can also consider opening a new card with a low introductory interest rate and transferring your credit card balances to this card. Many companies offer balance transfer credit cards with low or no interest for a period of time. If youâre focused on making payments during this period, you can get ahead of your debt. You may also qualify for a personal loan with a lower interest rate than your credit cards and use the funds to pay off your credit cards. This is called debt consolidation.
What To Know Before Filing For Bankruptcy
Some see bankruptcy as nature’s eraser, while others condemn it as the single greatest mistake in life. But what’s the truth? There are consequences to bankruptcy for sure, but there are unexpected positives that can help struggling individuals get back on their feet.
Bankruptcy isnt something to rush into, though. Bankruptcy is a complicated process that involves courts, lawyers, and possible repayment requirements.
It also has long-lasting effects and consequences that must be considered. Almost every aspect of life is affected by declaring bankruptcy. Considerations have to be made at every level, even in things like bankruptcy and life insurance.
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Are You Comfortable With The Attorneys Fees
Chapter 7 bankruptcies have a federal filing fee of $335 and average attorneys fees from $1,200 to $2,500. Chapter 13 bankruptcies have a federal filing fee of $310 and average attorneys fees from $2,000 to $3,000. These ranges should include everything required to complete your case, provided that there arent any rare or unforeseen circumstances requiring extra attention and time.
You have the right to have the fees laid out in advance in a written contract. The contract should break down what the attorneys fee includes.
Top rated lawyers may charge a premium, but they might have junior attorneys work on your case. Conversely, more affordable attorneys may have a higher volume of active cases so they may not have as much time to focus on yours. While the financial crisis that is prompting your bankruptcy filing may also tempt you to hire the cheapest bankruptcy attorney you can find, hiring a lawyer on price alone is not a good idea. Cost should be a consideration, but shouldnt be your only determining factor.
Selecting The Right Bankruptcy Attorney For Your Case
One of the most important decisions you can make in filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case is selecting the right attorney to represent you. Below are a few tips on how you can find the lawyer that is the best to handle your case:
Choosing the right bankruptcy attorney to handle your bankruptcy filing can be the difference between successfully discharging thousands of dollars and wasting your time and money! A little of time and effort to ensure you are working with the right attorney is worth it in the long run.
The legal team at Faro & Crowder is ready to help.
The information on this blog or any blog is not intended as, and should not be taken as, legal advice.
Things You Can Do Right Now
Think about bankruptcy like this: You can hire a painter to paint your house. They might just slap the paint on the house. Or, you can hire an artist to paint your house and wind up with a beautiful work of art that represents you better.
Pay Attention To The Questions The Bankruptcy Attorney Asks
Are all of the questions you are being asked dedicated to numbers and figures? Details about your income and expenses are necessary, of course. The attorney needs this information in order to present you with your options. But I find bankruptcy professionals are overly focused on this aspect of the process. I encourage people to listen for certain questions the attorney or other debt relief professionals should be asking. These questions can include:
Bankruptcy And Court Of Public Opinion
The court of public opinion is often a consideration. The way people perceive and judge others for mistakes or choices can be difficult to overcome. Bankruptcy is no different.
Negative Associations of Bankruptcy
There is a stigma around bankruptcy proceedings and individuals who choose to go that route. Others are not aware of the time and consideration put into making this kind of decision. People can be quick to judge and slow to understand.
This can affect people mentally. There can be feelings of failure that some feel after choosing bankruptcy or a fear that this same set of circumstances will happen again. These are natural feelings but should not be internalized.
Mistakes are made and unforeseen circumstances arise. Bankruptcy can be freeing, not a sign of failure.
Positive Associations of Bankruptcy
The positive side effect of declaring bankruptcy is the sense of relief. When people are drowning in debt, it feels like there is no rescue or way out. Bankruptcy offers that clean slate and a chance to restart.
Bankruptcy is not, however, a get-out-of-jail-free card. Part of the discharge procedure is financial counseling and support. The hope is that bankruptcy is not a recurrent choice. The court and creditors want to see individuals learn how to avoid bankruptcy court in the future.;;
How To Find The Right Bankruptcy Attorney
At the height of the Great Recession in 2009, more than 1.4 million people filed for bankruptcy protection. As the American economy struggled to regain its footing, that number actually increased the following year. Nearly 1.6 million citizens filed for protection in federal courts in 2010, according to statistics released by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts.
Though filings have declined of late, tens of millions of Americans are in constant danger of being overwhelmed by their debts. Not surprisingly, lawyers who work in this field are in high demand. In this article, we will discuss exactly what these legal professionals do and how they can save you from losing everything.
But before we begin, nobody wants to file for bankruptcy. Although it is quite common, filing is an incredibly unpleasant process. It is also a public admission of failure, which is why few Americans do it willingly.
Why Contact An Attorney?
Because the U.S. Bankruptcy Code is incredibly complicated, people that are considering filing for protection should call a qualified bankruptcy attorney. Yes, a person can represent himself in court, but it is seldom a good idea. Attorneys spend years studying the dense language of the U.S. tax code before they stand up in court. A neophyte cannot possibly compete. It is also important to note that if you make a single mistake on your petition or you file it incorrectly, your case could be summarily dismissed.
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Whats Important In A Lawyer
Bankruptcy is a field where empathy and communication skills are as important as knowledge of the law.
Pick a lawyer who can help you work through the issues, alternatives, and implications of your choices.
- Pick a lawyer with whom you are comfortable, one whom you can ask questions and get responses you understand.
- Pick a lawyer who either specializes in bankruptcy or does a large part of his/her practice in the field.
- Ask questions until you understand what your choices are.
- Dont be afraid to interview a lawyer and leave without retaining the lawyer.
Do I Need A Bankruptcy Attorney For Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Probably Yes
On the other hand, if you’re dealing with slightly more complicated issues, have expensive property you want to safeguard from your creditors, or need to catch up a mortgage, then Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a better fit for you.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to set up a repayment plan to bring your mortgage current over 3 – 5 years and so avoid a foreclosure. As foreclosure defense, it is absolute, assuming you can afford to start making your regular mortgage payments again and have enough disposable income to catch up the arrearages through your Chapter 13 repayment plan.
If youâre filing bankruptcy under Chapter 13, you should hire a competent bankruptcy attorney near you to help you with it. The Chapter 13 process is difficult to navigate without the help of a lawyer and less than 3% of cases filed without a lawyer end in successful plan completion nationwide.
Since completing the plan is needed to get your discharge at the end, hiring a lawyer to help you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is highly recommended and will save you from a lot of worries in the long run.
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Readiness To Hear You Out
Last but not least, every business relationship should be based on mutual respect. Therefore, we deem it essential to respect your point of view and discuss any potential alternatives that you have in mind every step of the way.
We understand that people generally associate bankruptcy with something extremely negative and undesirable, but what we at Chang & Diamond, APC want to show our clients is that filing bankruptcy opens many amazing possibilities. This is one of the most efficient ways to relieve your debt situation and restore your financial stability. With us by your side, you will feel absolutely empowered and ready to regain control over your life and finances.
Hire A Quality Bankruptcy Attorney
Recently there has been a big increase in the number of newly licensed;attorneys entering the bankruptcy field, who often charge unrealistically low prices.
At the same time, my office has seen an increase in the number of clients coming to me who are already represented by such attorneys and need help to fix problems caused or not anticipated by the inexperienced attorney. ; Unfortunately, at that point, it is often impossible to fix.
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Find The Best Bankruptcy Lawyer Near You
Each year thousands of people file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, which can be a rather confusing process. At the moment, if you are in a similar situation, then your first job is to find a good bankruptcy lawyer near you who offers the right counseling and direction. Unfortunately, numerous individuals have to bear the brunt of inferior legal services as bankruptcy filings are considered as a volume business by firms. Therefore, before you settle on an attorney, you should scrutinize their services well in advance.
Following are some factors that you should pay attention to for hiring the best bankruptcy lawyer near you.
Expertise and experienceFor a favorable outcome, it is essential for your lawyer to have a profound knowledge of the bankruptcy code as well as relevant experience in handling cases of such nature. A missed deadline or misfiled paperwork could easily damage your case. Hence, it is imperative that you hire a person who exclusively practices this discipline of the law. Choosing an attorney who has limited or zero experience in bankruptcy can inflict serious damage to your financial health in the long run.
When you are browsing for lawyers, inquire about their educational background and specialization. Ideally, a person handling bankruptcy cases should possess a bankruptcy certification from the American Board of Certification. Association with NACBA is also a good sign, indicating that the person has a proven expertise of the bankruptcy code.