Bankruptcy cases come in different kinds, circumstances, and degrees of complexity. While it’s advisable that you go through bankruptcy aided by the legal services of an experienced bankruptcy attorney, it’s not required. Take note, however, that with certain assets of value, filings under Bankruptcy Chapter 13, cases involving fraud, or general confusion regarding the bankruptcy process, engaging legal counsel of a skilled bankruptcy lawyer is a good investment.
How Can Bankruptcy Lawyers Help?
Bankruptcy law attorneys will work to ensure that you get the best possible outcome from your bankruptcy case. The following are some of the ways they can assist you:
Identify and explain the best bankruptcy options that you are eligible for among the different types of bankruptcy available.
Define legal terms and describe bankruptcy proceedings, depending on which bankruptcy chapter you’re filing under.
Help you complete and file bankruptcy forms with the bankruptcy court.
Guide you regarding bankruptcy exemptions to ensure you get to hold on to valuable property.
Represent you at the Meeting of Creditors.
Stop persistent creditors from continuing their debt collection attempts.
Prevent dismissal of your case by the bankruptcy court.
Bankruptcy sans Lawyer
Understandably, West Virginia debtors in financial distress might worry about having to pay attorney fees on top of actual bankruptcy fees. If your financial problems are pushing you to file for bankruptcy pro se or without legal representation, you may do so, but with more effort and copious research from you. Nonetheless, it can be done, especially if you have few assets, no creditors accusing you of fraud, and are opting to file under Chapter 7.
Even if there’s little chance of your case being dismissed, it would serve you well to at least consult with a lawyer. This way, you can better understand your situation and your options.
The necessity to Hire a Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer becomes more of a necessity than an option in several circumstances. As mentioned above, it’s the wise thing to do if you’re filing under Chapter 13, with significant assets, or for your business. If your case is a little more complicated, there is a higher chance that you could take a misstep that could end up jeopardizing your property or hurting your case
Definitely, having a lawyer is necessary if your bankruptcy trustee ends up accusing you of bankruptcy fraud. Not only does it put an end to your case, but it could also mean civil or criminal consequences. To avoid such a situation, hiring a lawyer from the get-go really helps.
If you’re only concerned about filing correctly, a bankruptcy petition preparer can help you fill out forms and submit the right documents. A regular petition preparer, however, doesn’t have enough legal knowledge of bankruptcy laws in order to provide you with legal advice toward the best possible outcome for your case, or the authority to represent you and assist you throughout the entire process. Keep in mind that bankruptcy policies differ from state to state, so you want to be guided by a West Virginia bankruptcy lawyer who is familiar with state bankruptcy laws.
Life after Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy does offer a fresh start, but it doesn’t mean that you will be completely debt-free. For instance, Chapter 7 bankruptcy has a limited list of dischargeable debts. There are types of debt that remain after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge, including:
Some kinds of tax debt
Federal student loan debts
Alimony and child support
Cooperative housing fees
Debt incurred from causing personal injury as a motorist
Government tax liens
Chapter 13 has a long list of dischargeable debts, but may not yet get you completely out of debt. All the same, you can still experience considerable debt relief, allowing you a chance toward better debt management and a more positive financial future even if the bankruptcy stays on your credit report for some years.
Bankruptcies can definitely be stressful. It helps to have legal aid and guidance from start to finish of the process. If you need legal assistance in bankruptcy matters, call us at Thomas E. McIntire and Associates, L.C. and set up and appointment for a free consultation with one of our bankruptcy attorneys.