Filing for bankruptcy on your own may seem like a good idea at first. You’re deep in debt, after all, and it feels good to avoid spending money on an attorney.
But by going it alone, you could end up even more stressed out and frustrated than you are now. An experienced bankruptcy attorney will make sure you’re making the right decision and using your time and money wisely.
In this article, we discuss why it’s a good idea to hire an attorney to manage your bankruptcy. A Charlotte bankruptcy attorney at The Law Office of Jack G. Lezman, PLLC can help you throughout the bankruptcy process. Call us today to find out how we can help you.
What’s Wrong With Filing Bankruptcy Yourself?
Nothing but your better judgment can stop you from filing bankruptcy yourself. It’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting into with bankruptcy if you haven’t gone through it before. Plus, the laws and rules surrounding bankruptcy are too vast to teach yourself when you have other priorities in life.
When you file for bankruptcy by yourself, you are the only one responsible for handling your claim. So, you alone must stay on top of all the responsibilities involved in managing your bankruptcy.
In the course of your bankruptcy, you will be in charge of all your paperwork. This includes filing bankruptcy forms, identifying creditors, debts, and exempted property, and responding to the bankruptcy trustee and court. You will also need to attend hearings, including your meeting of creditors. You could even be called upon to negotiate disputes with creditors and the bankruptcy trustee.
This, obviously, will require that you make a significant investment of time and energy. This is time and energy you could commit to your work, family, and other, more useful priorities.
If you file for bankruptcy yourself, you will not be given any special help, advice, or leniency. So, missing deadlines, submitting incomplete or forgotten forms, and failing to list an asset exemption can have serious outcomes. You could end up losing property unnecessarily, paying additional debts, having your claim dismissed, or facing fraud allegations.
How Having a Bankruptcy Attorney Benefits You
Bankruptcy involves many difficult decisions with long-term consequences. An experienced Charlotte bankruptcy attorney will guide you through the process to give you the financial fresh start you need.
Below are five reasons why you are better off hiring an attorney to manage your bankruptcy. They can:
#1: Help You Figure Out Whether Bankruptcy Is the Best Option
Bankruptcy is not right for everyone. An attorney will work with you to determine if bankruptcy works for you based on your debt and assets.
“Non-dischargeable” debts, such as taxes, student loans, and child support, can’t be discharged through bankruptcy. Also, “non-exempt” property, including portions of equity in your car or home, can be sold to pay off your debt. If your debt is non-dischargeable or you have non-exempt property you’d rather keep, an attorney could help you explore other options.
#2: Make Sure You File the Right Chapter
An attorney will help you decide whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy works best for your financial situation. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is quicker than Chapter 13, but isn’t available if you make too much money. Chapter 13 won’t work if you don’t have enough income to make payments under a multi-year plan. An attorney can work with you to assess your debts and income so that you file bankruptcy correctly.
#3: Make Sure You Complete Counseling and Education Requirements and Attend Hearings
Bankruptcy requires participation in credit counseling and financial education courses, as well as a meeting of creditors (or 341 hearing). You could have your bankruptcy case dismissed if you fail to attend. An attorney will make sure you are well-prepared for these events and attend.
#4: Make Sure Court Rules and Procedures Are Followed
Bankruptcy courts require their own set of legal paperwork, rules, and procedures. Not following these rules and procedures could result in your case being delayed or dismissed. An attorney will make sure the paperwork is properly completed and filed with the correct forms and supporting documents.
#5: Make Sure You Take Full Advantage of Exemptions
In North Carolina, exemptions are useful to keep property in Chapter 7 or avoid over-paying creditors in Chapter 13. You can protect part of your home and car equity, unpaid wages, retirement plans and pensions, and child support. An attorney will help you maximize these exemptions so that you don’t risk losing assets unnecessarily.
Contact a Charlotte Bankruptcy Attorney Today
Filing bankruptcy yourself is not worth your time and money. If you are considering bankruptcy, talk to an attorney. At The Law Office of Jack G. Lezman, PLLC, we understand how stressful it is to deal with overwhelming debt. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.