One of the biggest ironies to people who are not able to pay their debts is the amount of money it costs to hire a bankruptcy attorney. Many people will decide that the only way to file bankruptcy is to do it pro se (without legal representation.) Unfortunately, this is not always a good idea and could end up costing you more than what you would pay the lawyer. Here are a few reasons to go ahead and work with a bankruptcy lawyer.
Knowing Which Chapter to File
You have to choose between filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It really isn't a choice as to which you want to file, but which one you qualify for. While you can go online to get some information, it can be confusing and not complete. The best thing to do is to talk with a bankruptcy lawyer. He or she can explain the different chapters and go over your financials to help you decide which one to use. If you do this yourself, you may end up filing wrong and waste a lot of time when it is dismissed.
Determining What Is Exempt
In any bankruptcy, there are items you will be allowed to keep—they are exempt from being sold to pay down your debt. However, when you are listing your assets, you need to mark them as exempt, or you could end up losing them. An attorney will know the limits for each category and can help you make sure that you do not end up having to sell things you could have kept.
Meeting With Creditors
After the trustee has taken your unexempt property, there will be a meeting with your creditors. While the people you owe money to may not show up at this meeting, you need to be present. A judge will ask questions about your finances. You will need to be able to discuss all your debt, all your sources of income, and if there was any reason why things got out of hand (such as divorce, loss of job, etc.) This can be a scary process. Having a lawyer there to do the talking for you will relieves some of the stress and ensures that everything said is accurate.
Meet with a bankruptcy attorney who offers a free initial consultation. He or she can help you understand the whole process better. Once you realize that it is not simply filling out a few forms, you can decide if you need extra help or not. Of course, if you have assets worth more than the lawyer's fees, it would be a good idea to hire one so you do not end up losing more than what you would pay.