Depending on your current state of finances, filing for bankruptcy may be beyond your means. While the actual filing fees are around $300, the fee to engage a lawyer on your behalf is much more. Generally around $1,200 for a chapter 7 bankruptcy and $3,000 for a chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, an experienced bankruptcy attorney is worth their cost, as bankruptcy cases filed by an attorney are between 35%-55% more successful than petitions that are filed by an individual. Here are five ways a lawyer will make sure your case is successful.
Understand Your Options
You may think that once you decide to file for chapter 13 or chapter 7 bankruptcy, your decisions are complete. However, you have many more options after you have made the initial decision of which type of bankruptcy petition to file. These include whether you will be filing on your own or with your spouse, and exactly which debts will be included in the bankruptcy petition. You have more options than most people realize, and an experienced lawyer can help you figure out the best solution for you.
Gather Your Debt and Income Information
One of the most important steps when filing bankruptcy is notifying your creditors of your petition. If you have disorganized finances, or debts extended far into your past, you may overlook debts that could be discharged. A professional will help you include all applicable debts in your petition and not waste time with debts that are not applicable.
Help Protect Your Spouse and Co-signers
If you are married, and only one spouse is filing for a chapter 13 bankruptcy, you still have to gather financial information about your non-filing spouse. However, your spouse and co-signer's assets should be protected under a chapter 13 bankruptcy, and a lawyer will help you properly list joint assets in a way that works best for you and your spouse.
Navigate the Process
While filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy is a relatively short process, usually over within 6 months of the initial petition, chapter 13 bankruptcy takes longer to set up and complete. In either case, you will be required to send notices to your creditors, gather information about your income, and make appearances before a judge and creditors. If you are filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will then be required to make payments on your debt through a court-appointed trustee for 3-5 years.
If you miss any part of the process all or part of your petition may be denied, and inmost cases you cannot try filing for bankruptcy for another 6 months. Once you have completed your petition, you will not be able to file for bankruptcy for another 7 years, so it is important that all of your applicable debt is included in your initial petition. A lawyer will help you navigate the sometimes confusing process to make sure you do not miss appointments or critical deadlines.
Help You Find Support
One advantage to working with a professional is that they have helped many clients through the same process you are going through. Bankruptcy can be an emotionally difficult time for you and your family. An experienced lawyer should be able to direct you towards active support groups in your area as well as financial counseling services to help you manage your money once your debt is discharged.
If you are thinking of filing for bankruptcy, one of the most financially responsible things you can do is click here to investigate or consult with an attorney. Even if you file on your own, an attorney will be able to give you worthwhile advice on your specific case and help you watch out for potential pitfalls that will cause you future hardships.