A common question we hear is, do I need a lawyer for Chapter 7? If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy you should meet with a bankruptcy lawyer to discuss your case before taking any legal action. Generally, you are not required to retain a lawyer for Chapter 7 but due to the complexity and potential consequences you may find that you do need a lawyer for Chapter 7. Without competent legal advice you may be unaware of bankruptcy laws that can be used to dismiss your case or prevent the discharge of debts. Additionally, you may be forced by the bankruptcy trustee to sell some of your precious assets. Therefore, its better to be safe than sorry when answering, do I need a lawyer for Chapter 7. Most bankruptcy law firms in Tampa will offer a free consultation to address your questions and advise of the potential risks that may be present in your case.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Chapter 7 to Discharge Debt?
If a debt is discharged in bankruptcy the borrower will be released from all liability on the debt. The discharge is typically the primary reason why people file for bankruptcy. A common reason why consumers will think they do need a lawyer for Chapter 7 is to help ensure their debts are discharged.
There are two major sections of bankruptcy law that can be used to prevent a discharge of debt, Section 523 and Section 727. Section 523 deals with the discharge of individual debts, a denial under 523 only effects that specific debt, the remaining debts included in your bankruptcy may still be eligible for discharge. Conversely, a denial of discharge under 727 would preclude all the debts included in the bankruptcy from discharge. Thus, a preclusion of discharge under 727 is a lot more severe. This article will focus primarily on a denial of discharge under 727. For more information on denial of discharge under 523 contact a Tampa bankruptcy attorney.
An objection to discharge under 727 can be made by any party to the bankruptcy case. Most often, the party filing the objection will be either the bankruptcy trustee or a creditor included in the bankruptcy. The party filing the objection has the burden of proving the grounds for the objection. See In Re Brooks. The objecting party must provide sufficient evidence to establish the grounds for denial beyond a preponderance of the evidence. This standard only requires the objecting party to prove the grounds for denial are more likely than not to have existed. Proving the objection is justified will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of each case. If you are concerned about objections to discharge you should consider retaining an experienced bankruptcy attorney in Tampa to assist.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Chapter 7 if Trustee Objects to Discharge?
Often, we get calls inquiring, do I need a lawyer for Chapter 7 if the trustee has objected to discharge? You are not required to have an attorney but it is highly recommended to retain a chapter 7 lawyer in cases such as these. There are many different situations which can lead to a denial of discharge under 727.
The most common types of objections raised involve acts by the debtor to hinder, delay, or defraud a creditor. An example of this may include, gratuitously transferring assets to a family member within 1 year of filing for bankruptcy. See In Re Emmett. In order to justify denial of discharge under these grounds, the party filing the objection must prove the debtor acted with fraudulent intent. Merely proving the events occurred is not enough, there must sufficient proof the debtor acted with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud a creditor. See In Re Miller. In determining whether or not the debtor acted with the requisite intent the court will consider many factors, such as:
- The lack or inadequacy of value received by the debtor in exchange for the assets given
- The relationship between the parties (i.e. family, close friends)
- The financial condition of the debtor both before and after the transaction
- The existence of a pattern or series of transactions that are suspicious
- The general chronology of the events and transactions
Do I Need a Lawyer for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?
Denial of discharge under 727 is only applicable to Chapter 7, the law does not apply to Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, Chapter 13 has its own unique set of advantages and possible pitfalls. Bankruptcy law does not force you to hire an attorney for Chapter 13. However, do I need a lawyer for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is a lot different question than if you should I hire an attorney. Even though its not required, you may very well want to hire an attorney to protect yourself from the potential pitfalls of Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
Tampa Bankruptcy Law Firm
Florida Law Advisers, P.A. is dedicated to providing effective representation, individual attention and affordable fees to our bankruptcy clients. Our Tampa bankruptcy attorneys have years of experience helping people just like you solve their financial problems and obtain a fresh start. We combine our experience and skills in the courtroom with a thorough knowledge of the law to help achieve the results our clients need and deserve. Regardless of whether you need help with Chapter 13, Chapter 7, or other forms of debt relief our professional legal team will provide you with competent legal advice you can trust. Call us now at 800 990 7763 to speak with a bankruptcy attorney in Tampa and schedule a free initial consultation.