For many people considering filing for bankruptcy protection, paying legal fees may seem like just another unnecessary expense. This idea is understandable, especially for those in an already desperate financial situation involving too much debt. While well-intentioned, the idea to independently file a bankruptcy petition is not always wise. The entire purpose of seeking bankruptcy protection is to give yourself a fresh start. The only want to ensure that happens is by having the counsel of experienced professionals when working through the bankruptcy system.
Don’t Go It Alone
The fact of the matter is that while bankruptcy may seem fairly straight forward, there are complexities in this area of law that only trained professionals are experienced to handle. Not only do those unrepresented petitioners risk improperly filing their petitions and being time-barred from filing for a number of years, but even successful petitioners may have missed out on important benefits that they would have been able to take advantage of with the help of a bankruptcy attorney.
The following is an outline of some general pitfalls of entering bankruptcy without an attorney and the benefits of hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney to represent you.
Dangers of being unrepresented in the bankruptcy process:
- Losing property that is otherwise exempt under Chapter 7, or failing to realize the extent of property that is at risk of being lost
- While not all debts are able to be discharged in bankruptcy, an inexperienced member of the public may misunderstand exceptions to discharge and misapply them in their petitions, resulting in failing to list debt that is, in fact, able to be wiped out
- Failing to hire an attorney to file a bankruptcy petition also results in being unrepresented at later court appearances. Specifically, the meeting of the creditors is a hearing in which testimony is taken under oath before a judge, where the debtor is asked about the information contained in the bankruptcy Petition by the Trustee, who represents the creditors’ interests in the proceeding
Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Bankruptcy Attorney
- You are provided with trustworthy advice as to what property would be exempt under Chapter 7, or advice on filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition to avoid losing property
- A bankruptcy attorney can help you understand the exceptions to discharge and apply them to your specific case, ensuring that you are taking advantage and benefitting from all debt relief that is available
- You have an attorney representing your interest and protecting your rights at the meeting of the creditors.
Reach Out to Our Office for Help
While these are just some of the advantages of having an attorney’s assistance in the bankruptcy process, the benefits are really immeasurable. If you or someone you know is struggling with debt and are considering filing for bankruptcy, contact a bankruptcy attorney today.