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What to Expect from a Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you’re thinking of filing for bankruptcy, you have the option not to hire a lawyer, but that isn’t always smart. Whether you’re a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, filing without an attorney can cost you more than you’d save.

If you want to know what exactly a bankruptcy lawyer can do for you, here are fairly good ideas:

Stage I – Planning

First and foremost, your bankruptcy lawyer will determine what type of bankruptcy case you should file. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases are unique from each other, both in terms of the specific scenarios involved, and the main goals to be achieved. For instance, most of your debts can be offset by Chapter 7, but it can’t save a house that you haven’t paid for completely. In any case, a bankruptcy lawyer will recommend the best course of action to help you achieve your goals.

Stage II – Preparation

Property Valuations

Do you know how to assign accurate values to your belongings, such as your antique living room set or your recently purchased flatscreen TV? With a lawyer, your assets will be declared and valued as accurately as possible.

Applying for Exemptions

A lawyer can most expertly determine which state exemption rules you can use to protect most of your assets.

Eliminating Debts

There are some debts that won’t be eliminated or discharged in bankruptcy. Others can be wiped out only when specific conditions are met. With a lawyer, you will clearly understand which are which.

Step III – Bankruptcy Filing

Scheduling and Paperwork

When you file for bankruptcy, you need to file pages of financial information related to your debts, income, assets and every single financial transaction you had within the past few months (from date of filing).

A bankruptcy lawyer can give you advice on a host of issues, such as what you should disclose, what constitutes income, which tax returns to supply, and so on.

Ensuring a Correct and Complete Testimony

When you speak in court or even during meetings with your creditors, you will swear that you’re telling the truth. In simple terms, an attorney will make sure that your testimony is complete and accurate so you can avoid being charged with perjury.

Dealing with Automatic Stay Violators

There are creditors who just won’t stop collecting even when the borrower has already filed for bankruptcy, and this is against the law. Should that happen, a lawyer can take legal action against the creditor.

Negotiating with Creditors

Finally, in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your lawyer can work out a reaffirmation agreement or a redemption with a secured credit provider that lets you keep your home or car. For a Chapter 13, your lawyer will work out a deal with your creditors as to favorable collateral requirements, payment terms, interest rates.

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