When you hire an attorney to guide you through the bankruptcy process, you should expect the same fundamental approach to representation that you would in any attorney-client relationship. You should expect to be kept informed at every step of the process and to be deferred to when major decisions must be made concerning your case. You should expect that fee expectations are set up front and that terms of fee arrangements are honored. Additionally, you’re entitled to receive responses to your phone calls and emails within a reasonable period of time. Most importantly, your attorney should approach your case with the kind of care and dedication that the law requires.
It can be difficult to know exactly what to expect from an attorney-client relationship. A good rule of thumb is that you should expect your attorney to aggressively represent your interests. Every attorney has a distinct personality and approaches their practice differently. But you should expect your attorney to treat your case as important and your case should benefit from their specialized knowledge and expertise. Scheduling a consultation before you commit to an attorney-client relationship is a good idea. This no-obligation meeting will allow you to see whether a specific attorney’s approach fits your unique needs.
If You’re Filing for Chapter 7 Personal Bankruptcy
Only a minority of Americans are eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This process is commonly referred to as “liquidation bankruptcy” and “elimination bankruptcy.” It is only available to low-income Americans who are largely incapable of paying their creditors. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to have your eligible debts eliminated in as few as 90 days. This bankruptcy option best serves individuals and families who don’t own a lot of expensive or valuable property, as trustees are empowered to sell non-exempt property during the bankruptcy process. It’s worth noting that most low-income Americans don’t have much property that is considered non-exempt, so most filers get to keep most (if not all) of their property after the bankruptcy process is complete.
A bankruptcy lawyer that handles Chapter 7 cases serves a few important functions. First, they help filers to complete mandatory paperwork and submit it to the Court. Second, they ensure that filers get to keep as much of their property as possible safe from sale by their trustee. Third, they prepare those filers for the meeting they are required to have with their trustee and any of their creditors who opt to attend. Fourth, they represent their filers in Court and in interactions with creditors whenever necessary.
If You’re Filing for Chapter 13 Personal Bankruptcy
Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy doesn’t result in the (nearly) immediate elimination of an individual’s eligible debts. Instead, Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires filers to work with their attorney and their trustee to create a 3-5 year repayment plan of eligible debts. Once the terms of that repayment schedule are honored, the remainder of those eligible debts is discharged. Essentially, this bankruptcy process allows filers to reorganize their debts so that they’re more manageable. The “icing on the cake” of this process is the discharge of eligible debts at the end of the repayment period.
Hiring an attorney for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is more expensive than hiring counsel for a Chapter 7 case. This is because Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases are more complex and time-intensive. However, your Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan can include most of your attorney’s fees. This makes paying your attorney a more manageable process. Your Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer will help you to prepare your paperwork, submit it to the Court, and will represent you in all bankruptcy-related hearings.
One of the most important things an attorney does during this process involves drafting a proposed Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan. Your attorney will use their experience and legal knowledge to draft a proposal that is both manageable for you and meets the Court’s requirements. As you’ll be legally bound to honor the terms of this repayment plan, the importance of this process can’t be overstated. Your attorney will also prepare you for all hearings and meetings with your trustee. Finally, your attorney will make sure that all additional paperwork is properly completed and submitted on time.
If Your Business Is Filing for Bankruptcy
Business owners can file for bankruptcy under multiple chapters of the Bankruptcy Code. However, most opt to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Your Chapter 11 bankruptcy lawyer will help you to restructure your debt so that your business can regain firm financial footing. Before you schedule a consultation with a bankruptcy attorney, it’s important to remember that sole proprietorships and partnerships don’t have limited liability. As a result, if your business is filing for bankruptcy and it’s structured as a sole proprietorship or partnership, your bankruptcy will affect both your business and personal assets. If you have questions about the extent to which your bankruptcy will affect your personal assets, an attorney can answer them before you commit to filing.
A Chapter 11 bankruptcy attorney will help prepare all necessary paperwork and represent you in all Court appearances. Within 120 days of filing for bankruptcy, your attorney will help you to file a reorganization plan for your debt. This is a critical part of the bankruptcy process, as creditors or your trustee may file a competing plan. To ensure that your plan succeeds, your attorney will create the strongest proposal possible. Your attorney will also help you with any compliance needs you may have once your reorganization plan is approved.
Bankruptcy Assistance Is Available
If you’d like to learn more about bankruptcy or you’ve already committed to filing for bankruptcy, consider scheduling a consultation with an experienced LawTrades bankruptcy attorney. Our bankruptcy team has extensive experience representing both individuals and businesses in bankruptcy court. Our efficient, cost-effective, and personalized approach allows families and business owners to benefit from our informed and dedicated counsel. We look forward to answering your questions and speaking with you about your bankruptcy needs.