What is the Role of a Bankruptcy Attorney?
Bankruptcy is a complex procedure that requires you to make a host of critical decisions from before the time you file straight through to the time your debts are discharged and the bankruptcy procedure concludes. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can guide you through the dizzying maze of decisions, paperwork and procedure that marks a bankruptcy filing, whether it is a chapter 7 or chapter 13.
At the outset, a bankruptcy attorney is there to counsel you on the bankruptcy process and whether it is right for you. They serve to help you take a critical look at your debts and assets and determine if bankruptcy is the path that will best help you or if a smarter approach is to attempt to improve your circumstances from a different angle. For instance, the bulk of your debts may be ones ineligible for bankruptcy protection, such as student loans, and an attorney can help you weigh whether you would truly benefit from bankruptcy.
If bankruptcy does appear to be the right solution for you, an attorney then can help you
compare the chapter 7 and chapter 13 options. This is a critical decision and will involve you and your attorney examining the size and makeup of your debt, the assets you are willing to risk in a bankruptcy, and your ability to repay your debts or a portion of your debts, among many other considerations.
Once you have selected your specific filing plan, an attorney can help you make key decisions beforehand. For instance, if you file for chapter 7, an attorney can provide you with your best options for keeping any assets that you do not want to lose to help pay off creditors. If you file for chapter 13, an attorney can work with you to figure out an ideal payment plan that you would be able to afford. Attorneys can also help you consider aspects of your bankruptcy such as the impact on your co-signers on any loans that will fall under your bankruptcy filing or whether to file jointly with a spouse or as an individual. In order to be a trustworthy guide for this aspect of your decision-making, an attorney needs to have a thorough understanding of federal bankruptcy laws.
During the filing process, your attorney will help you gather and prepare the necessary
paperwork, which largely focuses on your income, assets, debts and expenses. Once the
documents are filed and the bankruptcy is in motion, your attorney will be your key guide in ensuring that you file any additional documents and respond to necessary deadlines on time.
Bankruptcy requires court hearings, including a meeting of your creditors, and your attorney will represent you at these procedures and ensure that your best interests are pursued. This is one reason that it is important to have an attorney with deep knowledge of local court procedures and the bankruptcy trustees in your region, because approaches can vary from locality to locality. These hearings could prove especially consequential if one of your creditors challenges the filing, making your attorney’s experience and understanding of your specific case crucial.
Throughout, a bankruptcy attorney should be readily available when you have questions or need a consultation as you navigate the process. A bankruptcy can be a challenging, confusing experience, but a good attorney can bring a measure of clarity and comfort and help ensure that it serves its chief purpose—helping you regain your financial footing.
AUTHOR: Stuart Law Firm, LLC.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.