What to expect from a bankruptcy lawyer
When filing for bankruptcy, it is crucial to employ the services of an efficient and reliable lawyer. Although you can choose not to do so, reaching out to an attorney makes the process a lot smoother. Since bankruptcy judges and court employees are prohibited from offering legal advice, it is best to understand the legal intricacies and your rights by hiring a lawyer. But how do you know who is the right one?
When looking for a competent attorney to work on your case, you should be meticulous in your search. Appoint someone you can rely on to come to a settlement that is best for you. There are certain things you can expect from a good bankruptcy lawyer when pleading your case. Some of these factors are mentioned below.
Representation in the hearings
Once you have filed for bankruptcy, as a debtor, you will need to attend various hearings in court, depending on your case. So the most basic task your bankruptcy lawyer needs to perform is to represent you well in your hearings. The first bankruptcy hearing is usually a mandatory 341 meeting of creditors. In addition, there may be a Chapter 13 confirmation hearing, a Chapter 7 reaffirmation hearing, etc., based on the approach you and your attorney choose.
Recommending the type of bankruptcy to file
Individuals can file two different types of bankruptcy pleas – Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your assets are liquidated to fulfill your debt obligations, and you are not required to pay anything more to your creditors later. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are required to try and make specific adjustments in your cash flow and resources to pay off your debts on your own. Besides these, there are a few other types of bankruptcy pleas as well. Your attorney can suggest the best option for you after studying your case.
Providing competent and valuable legal advice
Besides helping you prepare your paperwork and representing you in hearings, your bankruptcy lawyer should be able to give you expert advice on how to deal with your finances and the overall situation. This includes guiding you with liquidating your fixed assets and determining whether they can be sold or auctioned to help you pay off your debts entirely. To accomplish this, you will need to sit down with your attorney and go over all your assets to understand what can be kept and what needs to go. Making such decisions without professional guidance can be challenging because of how complex the laws can get.
Preparing the paperwork
A bankruptcy attorney is expected to run through your case from the start to the end. This includes dealing with the paperwork that needs to be prepared and submitted in court. It is not only about the paperwork required in the beginning to file for bankruptcy but also the foreclosure documents and auction papers that need to be taken care of when your case is eventually approved. The files you submit in court need to be compiled with precision to avoid any legal discrepancies in the future. Therefore, it is crucial to hire an attorney who can manage the process as efficiently as possible.
Sufficient bankruptcy experience
When looking for a bankruptcy lawyer compatible with you and your case, ensure they have enough experience handling issues similar to yours. Another crucial factor to consider when hiring an attorney is that they should not be occupied with too many similar cases simultaneously. This way, you can rest assured of receiving their full and undivided attention. Moreover, make sure you hire an actual bankruptcy lawyer and not a petition preparer who will only help you fill out the paperwork but is not a qualified attorney.
Up to date with the current bankruptcy laws
Bankruptcy laws tend to change a lot over the years. Moreover, the rules can vary from state to state. Therefore, it is necessary to make sure your lawyer has sufficient experience dealing with local cases and is up to date with the laws and rules about them. If you hire someone unaware of the local bankruptcy laws, you may end up in more trouble dealing with the complex legal issues and lose a lot of money in the long run.
Providing regular updates about the case
The worst thing to happen in the middle of a bankruptcy case is to have no idea about what’s happening. Your attorney must provide prompt and detailed updates about the situation as and when it progresses. They must notify you of any approvals or rejections as soon as it is announced. Your attorney should also inform you in advance of any upcoming hearings that you might have to attend. Such timely updates will help you prepare for the next steps.
So, keep the above requirements in mind and hire a suitable bankruptcy lawyer capable of fulfilling these. Also, before you finalize someone, inquire about their fees and how long they might take to file a bankruptcy petition. They usually charge legal fees, filing fees, and other amounts depending on the tasks at hand. So be mindful.