Hiring an experienced lawyer for your bankruptcy can help achieve the best result for you. In the internet age, representing yourself in a court action can feel like a reasonable decision. After all, there are a multitude of resources available to you for free that you can use. However, representing yourself is not as simple as it might seem at first. Plenty of landmines can await the unsuspecting debtor and put them in a position where they cannot get out, or where representation would then cost multitudes more than it would have had a lawyer been hired in the first place. Let’s go over the top five reasons to hire a lawyer to file your bankruptcy.
- A Lawyer Can Help Protect Your Property.
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, all non-exempt property can be sold and distributed to your creditors in bankruptcy. Each state has its own set of exemptions, and some states even have sub-sets of exemptions. The federal code has its own exemptions as well. Figuring out what state you are entitled to claim the exemptions of; and whether you are eligible to claim, or even should claim, the federal exemptions could be the difference between keeping your vehicles, home, or other assets. To claim an exemption, it must be affirmatively claimed. Failure to claim an exemption will not result in the court correcting your mistake. So having a lawyer that knows what exemptions are best for you and how to apply them can be paramount in a successful bankruptcy case.
- Different Types of Bankruptcy Have Different Outcomes.
The Bankruptcy Code provides for six different types of bankruptcy you can file: 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, and 15. Chapter 11 even has a sub-chapter to be filed under. Among these, in almost every case an individual almost always files under 7, 11, or 13. The differences among these cases are incredibly important when deciding what your goals are and what you are eligible for. Filing a Chapter 7 when you’re trying to save a home could be a huge mistake, especially if you have too much equity in that home. Similarly, filling a Chapter 13 because you think you make too much money could also be an expensive mistake. A little bit of investment to make sure your bankruptcy goes smoothly is worth the outcome.
- The Internet Does Not Know the Temperament of Your Trustee.
The Bankruptcy Code provides that a Standing Trustee is assigned in all Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy cases. Additionally, the United States Trustee oversees all bankruptcy cases and prosecutes bankruptcy crimes. Understanding who these people are along with their prior actions in bankruptcy cases can be valuable in understanding the risk of filing your own bankruptcy case.
- Bankruptcy Fraud is a Crime.
The end of the bankruptcy petition that you sign states:
“I understand making a false statement, concealing property, or obtaining money or property by fraud in connection with a bankruptcy case can result in fines up to $250,000, or imprisonment for up to 20 years, or both. 18 U.S.C. §§ 152, 1341, 1519, and 3571.”
While these laws are not intended to target mistake or inadvertence, the bankruptcy debtor has an affirmative duty that continues after filing to include accurate information and update that information in a timely manner. A Bankruptcy Lawyer can help you understand the questions so you can answer them correctly and in-full, while avoiding unnecessary over-disclosure.
- A Knowledgeable Lawyer Will Provide You with Peace of Mind.
Knowing you have someone that is an expert in bankruptcy that is working for you full-time to make sure your case goes smoothly provides peace of mind throughout the process. The last thing you want during the bankruptcy process is to lose sleep while worrying whether you’ll lose your house, your discharge, or whether your case could be dismissed. A good lawyer on your side will lead you to your discharge.
Those are the five reasons to have a lawyer on your side during a bankruptcy. While it may seem tempting to just fil out the forms yourself or hire a petition preparer to assist you, only a lawyer can provide you with legal advice. Call or text our office to schedule a consultation with our bankruptcy lawyer at (208) 719-0232 or leave us a message through our website.