Bankruptcy Law

Why Should I Hire a Bankruptcy Lawyer?

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1 September, 2023

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You should be aware because filing for bankruptcy under the wrong chapter could complicate things even more for you. 

Do you not know what to do with your assets while dealing with bankruptcy?

How to file for bankruptcy without an attorney?

Do you think bankruptcy will spoil your credit report forever? 

Are you struggling with debts, child support, student loans, taxes, and alimony, along with the bankruptcy proceeding?

Don’t worry. We are here to ease the process for you. 

In this article, we will tell you all about the role of a bankruptcy attorney, how they can help you with your bankruptcy claim, and also guide you on how to file for bankruptcy without an attorney. 

Let us first talk about what bankruptcy is.

What Is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal process through which any citizen or business of the United States can declare that they are insolvent. A person can file for bankruptcy when they are overwhelmed with the amount of debt that they are in but do not have the resources to pay them. 

When a person legally fires for bankruptcy under the federal law of the United States, their goal is to put a halt to their debt repayments and regain enough financial stability to repay them. 

What Are The Types Of Bankruptcy In The United States?

There are several types of bankruptcy that you can claim under the United States law. 

The Bankruptcy Code

The primary federal law of the United States regarding bankruptcy is known as The Bankruptcy Code, which is Title 11 of the United States Code. This code has various chapters. It states the rights of the creditors and the debtors, the process for reorganisation, liquidation, and discharge of debts. 

Chapter 7 

This chapter of the bankruptcy code is known as the “liquidation bankruptcy”. Here the personal Assets of the person filing bankruptcy will be protected by the law. If the government deems fit, their debts will be waived off, and they will no longer have to pay them. 

Chapter 13 

This chapter of the bankruptcy code is known as “reorganization bankruptcy”. Under this chapter, a person filing for bankruptcy creates a plan to repay and manage their debts over a period of 3 to 5 years. Chapter 13 bankruptcy claims usually include mortgage car loans and other types of secured debts. 

Other Chapters

Chapter 9 of the code deals with bankruptcy claims filed by Municipal corporations, cities, and towns. 

Chapter 12 of the code deals with family farmers and fishermen. 

Chapter 15 of the bankruptcy code deals with foreign debtors, non-US creditors, and inter-country insolvency cases. 

A bankruptcy attorney can manage all of the above, depending on their area of expertise. 

Who Is A Bankruptcy Lawyer?

If you are wondering whether you need a bankruptcy attorney or not, let us first find out who they are. A bankruptcy attorney is a lawyer. They are legal professionals who deal with individuals, organizations, businesses, towns, municipalities, and even inter-country organizations facing difficulties while filing for bankruptcy. They are usually experts in the Bankruptcy Law of the nation and can help clients get the best way out of their complex legal and financial situations. 

Qualifications

Like any other lawyer, a bankruptcy lawyer first gets their bachelor’s degree from any accredited college in the US. 

Next, they earn their Juris Doctor degree or their law degree from any reputed Law School in the nation. 

After that, they pass the state bar exams and gain experience by practicing in bankruptcy law firms, government agencies, or under a more experienced bankruptcy lawyer. 

There is also something called Continuing Legal Education courses in the US. If you are hiring a bankruptcy attorney, make sure that they take these courses regularly to keep themselves updated about the latest bankruptcy laws of the nation. 

How Much Does A Bankruptcy Attorney Cost?

A bankruptcy attorney in the US can charge differently based on their experience, their area of practice, and the facts of the case. However, on average, bankruptcy attorneys can charge somewhere around $1000 to $1200 to file for a bankruptcy claim under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code. 

However, they can charge up to $3000 to $6000 to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code. 

They might also charge additionally for papers, credit counseling, and other services. 

Do You Need A Bankruptcy Attorney?

The law of the United States allows you to represent yourself and court. However, it would be unfair if I told you that hiring a lawyer would not make a difference. A bankruptcy filed without a bankruptcy attorney is 10 times more likely to be dismissed or denied by the American Bankruptcy Institute under Chapter 7. 

This is when you should look into hiring a bankruptcy lawyer. 

  • If you are uncomfortable dealing with your bankruptcy on your own. 
  • If the paperwork is too overwhelming for you to keep track of.
  • If debt collectors are harassing you and you do not know of a way out.

However, bearing these in mind, it is not completely impossible for you to file for bankruptcy without a lawyer. 

How Do You File For Bankruptcy Without An Attorney?

The first step to filing for bankruptcy without a bankruptcy lawyer is to prepare yourself for the process. Go through the rules of the bankruptcy code and know what you are supposed to do. 

Find out the type of bankruptcy your case is eligible for. As an individual resident of the United States, you can file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or under Chapter 13. 

After you have decided, you need to go through credit counseling at least 180 days before filing for the claim. This will decide if you are able to file or not. 

Next, you will need to fill out Form 101, known as the Voluntary Petition For Individuals Filing For Bankruptcy. Fill out the details of your social security number, address, an estimate of your assets in liabilities, and all the types of debt you are currently in. 

Multiple forms have to be submitted along with this petition. You will have to pay the necessary fee unless the court waives it off. Next, you will have to submit multiple documents, like a list of your creditors, a proper estimation of all property you own, and a detailed summary of all your income and expenses. 

If you are struggling with the paperwork, you can ask help from a paralegal to do it for you. 

After the court decides that your bankruptcy claim has been approved, you will have to meet with the court-appointed trustee. The final preceding that you will have to attend is called a 341 meeting. 

Final Word

Are you still wondering how to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy without an attorney? 

If yes, start your research and understand the process. 

You will have to pass the means test to qualify under this chapter. A means test will be on your expenses and your income. 

Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to keep certain assets like your personal belongings or your home. You will need to know what you can keep and what you cannot. 

After the Court goes through the details of your bankruptcy and accepts, they will be an automatic stay order on the proceedings. 

Note that you need to file for the case in a federal bankruptcy Court.

After you have filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, the process can take up to 6 months for all your debts to be waived off

If you are looking to file for bankruptcy on your own, don’t worry; it is completely possible. However, it is always wise to consult with a lawyer first. An initial consultation with a bankruptcy attorney can help you understand exactly how complicated your case is and what the potential consequences could be. 

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Jyoti Jha is a freelance SEO content writer for tech , health, and education-related content. With 5 years of experience in the industry, I am creating high-quality content that captivates readers and delivers value.

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