Choosing a bankruptcy attorney may be overwhelming on top of dealing with aggressive debt collectors and bills that you cannot afford to pay. If you have had enough of the struggling to make ends meet and you are ready to file for bankruptcy relief, where do you begin? Do you represent yourself or do you choose a bankruptcy attorney at random online?
Bankruptcy attorneys offer free consultations. You can get answers to your questions about bankruptcy and help to decide if filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is your best option for getting out of debt quickly and affordably.
The Bankruptcy Code does not require you to hire an attorney to file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case. You can represent yourself in the bankruptcy case. However, filing for bankruptcy relief without an attorney can make the process more difficult.
You can copy the bankruptcy forms from the Bankruptcy Court’s website. However, you are responsible for ensuring the forms are completed accurately. When you sign your bankruptcy petition, you are signing under oath that the forms contain all information required by law and the information is true and correct. A typical bankruptcy filing can be 50 or more pages, and some of the information requested can be a bit confusing unless you understand bankruptcy laws. For instance, the Means Test must be completed correctly, or your case could be dismissed because you are not eligible to file under that chapter of bankruptcy.
In addition to completing the forms, in a Chapter 13 case, you must calculate and complete a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan. These plans are also complex and contain many sections that can be confusing. Attorneys without bankruptcy experience can find it difficult to calculate the plan to comply with all bankruptcy laws and rules. An average person usually does not have the experience or knowledge required to calculate a bankruptcy plan correctly.
When you file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case without a bankruptcy lawyer, the court and the trustees expect you to understand the rules and laws. Claiming not to be an attorney is not an excuse. If you make mistakes or miss deadlines, your case could be far more difficult and costlier than it would have been if you had contacted a bankruptcy attorney. For instance, an error could result in you losing property that would have been protected had you known about bankruptcy exemptions.
Since bankruptcy attorneys offer a free consultation, why not take advantage of the free advice to learn why you need an experienced bankruptcy attorney to represent you when you file for bankruptcy relief.
Again, using anyone other than an experienced bankruptcy attorney can result in a loss of time and property. Only a bankruptcy attorney is allowed by law to give you legal advice and represent you in court. If you use a service, you are still representing yourself. Furthermore, the courts and the trustees often review forms prepared by document preparation services or paralegals very carefully because they want to ensure you did not receive legal advice from someone who is not authorized to practice law.