Getting out of debt can seem like an impossible task — especially if you are currently struggling to meet minimum payment obligations to your creditors. If you have reviewed your finances and find that your financial situation is worsening and there is no way you will be able to repay your debts within two or three years, you should consider bankruptcy as an option. Below are three key reasons why you should hire a bankruptcy lawyer to get out of debt.
How common is bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is more common than you may think. In 2018, there were 755,182 bankruptcies filed in the United States. And with the typical American now carrying $38,000 in personal debt, it is no surprise that bankruptcy filings are on the rise in many parts of the United States. With many Americans carrying an increasingly large amount of debt, a medical expense or other unplanned emergency can devastate a person’s financial situation.
Why should you hire a bankruptcy lawyer?
Preparing for bankruptcy involves much more than filing a petition and receiving a discharge of your debts. For example, you need to decide which type of bankruptcy to file, attend required credit counseling, properly complete all of your paperwork, and attend your 341 hearing. The best way to ensure that you successfully complete these steps is to seek legal guidance. Here are some of the many reasons why you should hire a bankruptcy lawyer:
1) Receive guidance on bankruptcy types
A seasoned bankruptcy attorney will sit down with you and explain the differences between the various types of bankruptcy. Then, your attorney will help you review your current financial situation to determine which type of bankruptcy is best for you. The three most common types of bankruptcy are as follows:
- Chapter 7: Commonly called liquidation bankruptcy, this type of bankruptcy involves the sale of your non-exempt property to repay creditors. Not all people are eligible for Chapter 7, as there are specific income limits that must be met.
- Chapter 11: This type of bankruptcy differs from Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 because it is designed to aid struggling businesses and corporations. The business typically continues to operate but their finances are restructured in an effort to maximize repayment to creditors.
- Chapter 13: Also known as a reorganization bankruptcy, Chapter 13 involves the creation of a three to five-year payment plan to repay your debts. If you comply with your repayment plan, you might be allowed to keep your property.
2) Increase your chances of a successful filing
“According to Ed Flynn of the American Bankruptcy Institute, lawyers represented consumers in 91.5% of the 486,347 Chapter 7 cases filed in 2017. Lawyers had their clients debt discharged – meaning eliminated – in 96.2% of the cases…By contrast, people who represented themselves in Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, were successful just 66.7% of the time.” – Bill Fay, Debt.org
Hiring a bankruptcy lawyer greatly boosts the odds that your debts will be successfully discharged. In fact, over 96 percent of Chapter 7 cases that were handled by a bankruptcy attorney resulted in the successful elimination of their clients’ debts. People who chose to represent themselves instead of hiring an attorney were only successful 66.7% of the time.
3) Help simplify a complex process
The bankruptcy process is complex and can take months or even years to unfold. Because bankruptcy is overseen by the federal courts, it is critical to adhere to all of the regulations outlined by the court system. These regulations are not always straightforward or easy for the average person to understand. For these reasons alone, legal representation is recommended.
An experienced bankruptcy lawyer will help you understand these regulations and how they apply to your situation. Additionally, a lawyer can help you understand the role that bankruptcy trustees, credit counseling, liens, and liquidation each play in your bankruptcy. In short, a bankruptcy attorney will help you understand how the process works and help ensure that you fulfill your obligations once you have filed.
What can happen if you try to handle the bankruptcy process on your own?
“Individuals can file bankruptcy without an attorney, which is called filing pro se. However, seeking the advice of a qualified attorney is strongly recommended because bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal outcomes.”
– Administrative Office of the United States Courts
You are not always required to have an attorney to file bankruptcy. In fact, some people even decide to file for bankruptcy on their own and represent themselves. Others decide to represent themselves in an effort to save some money. But attempting to handle your bankruptcy without the guidance of an experienced attorney can leave you at increased risk for the following pitfalls:
- Filing the wrong type of bankruptcy: If you mistakenly file the incorrect chapter type, you may lose property that you want to keep.
- Incomplete or inaccurate paperwork: Failure to complete required paperwork thoroughly and correctly can jeopardize your filing.
- Failure to meet deadlines: If you miss any key deadlines, the court has a right to dismiss your bankruptcy case.
- Missed property exemptions: Failure to note the correct property exemptions on paperwork may cause you to lose your property.
Selecting the best bankruptcy lawyer in Tampa
As outlined above, there are many reasons why you should hire a bankruptcy lawyer to help you eliminate your debts. But not all bankruptcy attorneys are created equal. It is up to you to choose an attorney who will be responsive to your needs and guide you through each step of your bankruptcy filing until your debts are successfully discharged.
We invite you to contact us at Florida Law Advisers, P.A. to schedule a complimentary consultation with a member of our legal team. We will take the time to review your financial situation to see if bankruptcy is the best option to help you get out of debt. If you decide to hire Florida Law Advisers to handle your bankruptcy, we will make sure to provide you with the legal support and guidance you need during each phase of the bankruptcy process. We look forward to helping you achieve a fresh financial start.