We have all had about bankruptcy lawyers but we do not give much attention until we are in a financial quagmire. After all, financial hardship is what often prompts people to declare bankruptcy.
This brings about the question; who is a bankruptcy lawyer and how do you choose one? But first things first, what is bankruptcy law.
Well, bankruptcy is a legal proceeding that individuals start if they can’t pay their debt. The common types include Chapter 7 (individual petitions) and Chapter 11 (wage earners plans). Filing for bankruptcy is a complicated process.
To ensure you file for the right category, you need the services of a bankruptcy attorney. This article explores what to keep in mind when hiring a bankruptcy lawyer.
Why you need a bankruptcy attorney?
Declaring bankruptcy is an intimidating experience.
First, you have little to no idea of what the process involves.
Second, there is a lot of stigma surrounding the bankruptcy process.
This can easily make you fear reaching out for help. But, you can always get the services of a lawyer. The lawyer will not only help you complete the process fast but will also stay by you during this difficult time. Here are a couple of reasons why you need a bankruptcy lawyer.
1. To determine if you should file for bankruptcy
Filing for bankruptcy may be one of your options when you are facing financial hardships. It may feel like you do not have many options when it comes to addressing your debt problems. And this may prompt you to file for bankruptcy, but there are always other solutions. Since you do not know your other options, it is always best to consult a bankruptcy lawyer near you. This is quite important before you make the final decision.
A bankruptcy lawyer has the knowledge and skills that it takes to take you down the whole process. They are can listen to your case and tell you if you should start the bankruptcy process or if it is not advisable.
In some cases, the bankruptcy lawyer will propose another path that you can take. They help you to manage your debt and keep your creditors at bay. In other cases, your debt may be unmanageable and you have nothing to pay or even reduce your debt. The attorney will definitely tell you to file for bankruptcy.
2. To determine the most ideal chapter to file for
Once you the decision to file for bankruptcy is final, it is imperative to decide the chapter to file for. A bankruptcy attorney helps you determine the most beneficial chapter to your case. Remember, everyone that files for bankruptcy has a different case. This means that they should choose a different chapter that addresses their issues.
If you have little to no income and are unable to pay debts, it is advisable to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is also the preferred chapter if you do not have any viable asset such as a vehicle or a house. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy absolves all your debt with some little exceptions. These include any pending child support, student loans or back taxes owed to the IRS.
Others have no viable assets to pay off their debt but have a steady income. In such cases, debt structuring helps to manage payments in a way that ensures the debt is repaid. This is Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. It is worth noting that there are a lot of other options when it comes to addressing your finance problems. A good bankruptcy lawyer will be able to look at your situation and tell you the best course of action to take.
3. To increase your odds of acceptance
You can choose to file for bankruptcy on your own. But you have better odds when a qualified legal professional represents you. A lot of paperwork is necessary and involved when filing for bankruptcy. If you are well-versed with the justice system, you know the importance of such technicalities. Errors when filing paperwork or failure to report pertinent information results in rejection. A bankruptcy lawyer will help you file all the paperwork without any omissions. This increases your chances of successful filing. Since lawyers are knowledgeable professionals, hiring one also reduces the chances of making errors.
Enter your ZIP code below to search for bankruptcy lawyers near you. You can use the tool to search for bankruptcy lawyers in Las Vegas, bankruptcy lawyers Phoenix or any other city.
Bankruptcy Lawyer Demand By Cities
Contrary to popular beliefs, most bankruptcy cases do not arise from reckless spending. In fact, a lot of cases arise from financial hardships. Many applications come from lower-income individuals dealing with medical emergencies or unemployment. Peak demand of bankruptcy lawyers often arise from economic downturns. They also occur in states that have little consumer friendly laws.
Interest of bankruptcy lawyers has been high for the past year. But peak popularity of the term reaches in September 2018 and June 2019. The search interest of bankruptcy lawyers high in July 2019. Kansas is the sub-region with the highest search interest over the last one year. It is then followed by Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana and Virginia. All which also have high search interest according to Google Trends.
5 Steps to take when hiring a Bankruptcy lawyer
Hiring a bankruptcy is an important decisions same as hiring a medical professional. With that being said, it is vital to know some things before making this crucial decision. Here are a couple of steps to take before making that critical decision.
Step 1: Do it immediately
A lot of people procrastinate until it is too late. Then they run around looking for any available bankruptcy lawyer. This may be understandable since there is a lot of stigma surrounding the process of hiring a bankruptcy lawyer. But don’t let this prevent you from starting the search of a good lawyer as soon as you find out that you will need one. Why is this an issue? First, it won’t give you time to look for the best bankruptcy attorney. Also, your lawyer will not have adequate time to prepare for your case and this may affect the whole process. Get a bankruptcy lawyer and get them fast.
Step 2: Visit a law firm or spend a day at a bankruptcy court
Taking time to visit a law firm is a great idea for anyone looking for a bankruptcy lawyer. Not only will you get the required legal services but you can also get an idea on the type of lawyer you are hiring. A quick office appraisal can give you all you need to know about how the client will handle your case. Alternatively, you can also decide to spend a day at the bankruptcy court. Observing attorneys in action can reveal the type of lawyer you want. Look for attorneys who have a similar case or those who have the qualities you want in a lawyer. Other ways to find credible local attorneys would be to find out who sits in local bankruptcy panels. Or get names of lawyers on the bankruptcy court’s debtor or creditor committee. If you don’t want all this hustle, search your ZIP code below and get local bankruptcy lawyers in your area.
Step 3:Get an affordable lawyer but don’t hire the cheapest
We are always looking for a good deal and this is not an exception when it comes to hiring a lawyer. You may not have a lot of cash to splurge on a lawyer, after all you are looking to file for bankruptcy. However, do not go with the cheapest lawyer that you get. Like almost any other thing in life, you get what you pay for.
Of course, you want a competent lawyer that knows how to navigate the legal system. This will definitely cost you a little bit more. If you have doubts about the fees you are being charged, a local bar association can settle your worries. These associations can help you know if the fees you are being charged is fair. While it is advisable to shun the cheapest service, do not get the most expensive lawyer.
Another great tip with regards to cost is to find out any fee specifics. You need to know what is included in your lawyers fee and what is not included. This will prevent any surprises in future. For example, it is not uncommon for a court to propose that you get a forensic accountant. If this happens, you need to know if the lawyer included the fee in your charges or if it is a separate charge.
Step 4: Tell your lawyer everything
A grave mistake that people make is failure to reveal their financial situation to the lawyer. Bankruptcy filings are all about full disclosure. This is why you must list all your assets and debts on your petition. Some people hide assets with the hope that it will not be part of their bankruptcy claim. Once you file for bankruptcy, all your assets are part of the proceedings. To ensure that the process is smooth, you need to reveal everything to your lawyer beforehand. You do not want to surprise your lawyer during a court session when your creditors present evidence of hidden assets. It may not be easy to reveal everything about your estate but it will help save you from a lot of grief in future. Failure to reveal any income or assets may present problems in future. If the bankruptcy court or even your creditors find out, you might lose all the progress that you have made. This means you need to hire a lawyer that you are comfortable talking to about your personal finances. And one who you can reveal every aspect of your financial situation.
Step5: Heed to professional advice
Some clients move from lawyer to lawyer with the hope that one attorney will tell them what they want to hear. While it is not bad to seek the opinion of different lawyers (it is even recommended), do so for the right reasons. Problems are bound to arise when you don’t follow conventional advice. For example, you may get some advice from a lawyer but you want another attorney to tell you another thing. A bankruptcy lawyer may tell you that it is not advisable to omit assets when filing for bankruptcy. Some people move on from lawyer to lawyer hoping to find one who agrees to their requests. In this case, you will only hire an attorney that tells you what you want to hear. You, however, need one who has your best interests at heart. To get the best results, hire a lawyer who understands the law. Also, get a lawyer that has taken time to assess your issue and map out a clear path forward.
Declaring bankruptcy is a tough decision. There is a lot of stigma that you are likely to experience once you announce to the world that you are insolvent. The process is also tiring and needs a lot of paperwork before it is complete. While you can decide to file for bankruptcy on your own, it is often not the best choice. This is because you may not have enough legal experience to represent yourself. You also need some good of understanding of the justice system. Without this, it is almost impossible to get a positive verdict. A lawyer will help you determine whether you need to file for bankruptcy in the first place. If so, they will tell you the best chapter to file. When hiring a bankruptcy lawyer. it is critical to ensure full disclosure and to hire local attorneys. Other useful tips include getting an affordable counsel and heeding to their advice. For positive results, hire a competent bankruptcy lawyer that can guarantee approval.