Ensure all paperwork for the bankruptcy filing is accurate and complete. They will be able to explain the different types of bankruptcy and advise clients about what they can expect from the process.
Bankruptcy attorneys should also be familiar with the procedures of their local courts. Missing even one filing deadline could jeopardize the outcome of a case.
Filing for Bankruptcy
Your bankruptcy attorney will carefully interview you and review all documentation related to your financial situation. Once your lawyer has sufficient evidence to evaluate your case, he will draft and file the necessary court paperwork. He will also be your advocate at any court-mandated hearings or when negotiating with creditors.
Bankruptcy allows you to eliminate most debts by convincing the court that you have no ability to pay what you owe. However, you must forfeit some assets if they are not protected by state or federal exemption laws. Your bankruptcy lawyer will help you decide which assets to keep and which ones to forfeit.
After your case concludes, the court will send a notice to your creditors that your debts have been discharged. If your debts include a mortgage or car loan where the creditor has a security interest in your property, that creditor can attempt to recover the property during and after your bankruptcy.
Representation in Bankruptcy Court
Bankruptcy proceedings involve a lot of paperwork and filing deadlines. If you miss one deadline or fill out a form incorrectly, it could throw off your entire case. A bankruptcy attorney will ensure that all paperwork is filed correctly and in a timely manner.
Bankruptcy attorneys are also familiar with state laws regarding what types of assets you can protect from creditors. They can help you determine which of your debts the court will discharge and which will remain.
If you are considering a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your bankruptcy attorney can prepare you for what to expect in the courtroom and negotiate with your creditors on your behalf. You can find a lawyer with experience in bankruptcy law through the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys or your local or state bar association. If you are a business owner, you may need to find an attorney who specializes in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which helps businesses retire debt at a discount or restructure operations and recapitalize.
Representation in Negotiations with Creditors
A bankruptcy lawyer can help you negotiate with creditors. Your attorney can advise you about which debts to pursue, and which assets you might be able to shield from creditors’ claim (each state has its own laws on this).
It’s important for your attorney to have a good grasp of how much money you make, what you spend and what property you own. That information is vital to determining whether you should file for bankruptcy, and which type of bankruptcy to choose.
Look for a bankruptcy attorney who specializes in the area of law you’re facing. The ABA and your local bar association may have special sections that list attorneys who have expertise in bankruptcy law. Also, ask for references and do some online research. A qualified bankruptcy lawyer should have experience in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. They should also offer less drastic options for resolving your financial situation, such as debt settlement.
Organizing Financial Records
A big part of a bankruptcy attorney’s job is gathering all of your financial records, putting them in order, and ensuring that all of your paperwork is filed correctly. This can include everything from credit card bills to business licenses. In addition, they can help you sign up for e-statements and e-receipts to make things even easier.
Bankruptcy attorneys also help you sort through your assets and determine which debts the court will discharge and which you must continue paying, according to state laws. They will also help you find any assets that are protected under exemption laws, which vary by state.
Finally, a good bankruptcy attorney can handle all communications with debt collectors on your behalf. They can also help you set up credit counseling to avoid future problems. They can also keep track of all deadlines and ensure that any paperwork you must submit is filed by the correct date. This helps you avoid having a creditor request a 2004(a) examination, which is more detailed review of your finances.