Three Reasons You Should Hire A Bankruptcy Attorney
Some people contemplating bankruptcy feel they can't afford to hire an attorney and, thus, decide to manage their own cases. While this is a perfectly valid strategy, you may actually be doing yourself more harm than good going the do-it-yourself route. Here are three reasons why it's often worth the effort to hire a lawyer when filing bankruptcy.
Force Creditors to Return Money and Property
Creditors are an aggressive bunch. When you fall behind on payments, they'll do everything they can to make you pay the debt, including deducting money from your bank account or paycheck through a garnishment procedure or taking property that served as collateral for the loan.
In many cases, creditors are within their legal rights to use these methods to resolve a delinquent account. However, sometimes they go too far and take money or property they aren't entitled to. If you don't know how the law works, it can be very difficult getting creditors to return what's rightfully yours.
This is where having a lawyer in your corner is beneficial. Your attorney can force the creditor to give back money and property they took illegally. For instance, certain funds—such as Social Security payments—are exempt from being garnished, but sometimes a creditor will take money from a debtor's bank account without checking where the cash came from first. The lawyer will make the creditor return all the protected funds and prevent them from continuing to tap your account.
If you've been subjected to garnishment or repossession, it's a good idea to consult with an attorney to see if you can recover the money or property from the creditor.
Find Ways to Discharge Non-Dischargeable Debt
Although bankruptcy can wipe out debts, some debts are non-dischargeable, meaning you'll still have to pay the exempt creditors after your case ends. As you can imagine, this can be problematic if you just don't have the money to pay those debts and can result in you being in the same situation you were in before you filed for bankruptcy.
However, the bankruptcy court will make an exception and cancel some non-dischargeable debts if the petitioner meets certain qualifications. For example, student loans will always survive bankruptcy, but the court may cancel a person's obligation to repay them if the individual can prove paying the loans represents an undue hardship.
The process of getting non-discharged debt dismissed is almost always difficult but it can be made a lot easier when you have an attorney assisting you. In addition to helping you find ways to get rid of stubborn debt, the lawyer can typically handle submitting the documents required to prove your case. Being freed from zombie debt and endless paperwork can certainly make any lawyer's fees worth paying.
Defend You Against Adversarial Actions
Although the process of filing bankruptcy is simple, any number of things can go wrong that can impact your ability to get rid of debt. In particular, it's not unusual for creditors to file adversarial actions that could result in you paying them more or cause some debts to survive discharge when they would otherwise be dismissed.
Adequately responding to an adversarial action isn't always a straightforward process, and one misstep could derail your case. Thus, having an attorney defend you when creditors pull this move will be critical. The lawyer can squash frivolous or unwarranted filings and/or negotiate with creditors if the situation calls for it. This can save you a lot of time, money, and stress and increase your chances of leaving the bankruptcy court truly debt-free.
For more information about filing bankruptcy or help with your case, contact a local bankruptcy attorney.