Almost often, hiring legal counsel to represent you in bankruptcy is a wise decision. Here are two scenarios where legal counsel is always necessary.
You’ve Got a Difficult Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
You’ll probably want a lawyer if you operate a small business, make more money than the average resident of your state, have a sizable quantity of assets, priority debts, nondischargeable debts, or creditors who can sue you for fraud. This is why.
A Chapter 7 case cannot be automatically dismissed by the filer. The bankruptcy court may reject your case or liquidate assets you believed you could keep if you make a mistake. A bankruptcy case could potentially be brought against you to decide whether or not a debt should be dismissed. If you lose, the debt will still need to be paid after filing for bankruptcy.
What Are Nondischargable Debts and Priority Debts?
A great tool for many people who are drowning in debt to get back on their feet is bankruptcy. However, it might not completely discharge your debt. In addition to being non-dischargeable, many “priority” debts also have the advantage of being paid off first if funds are available to pay creditors.
Child support, spousal support, or another domestic support duty, fines, penalties, and restitution imposed as punishment for breaking the law, some taxes, and impaired driving obligations are among the top debts you’ll still be accountable for after filing for bankruptcy.
You’ll still be liable for the following debts:
Retirement plan loans can be utilized to pay off debts that were deemed non-dischargeable in a prior bankruptcy as well as non-dischargeable tax debt (for example, if you used your credit card to pay a tax bill).
Unless you can demonstrate that completing your payments would put you in difficulty, a student loan won’t be forgiven either. The majority of people, however, fall short of the requirement. The lawsuit that is required to establish the case may also be expensive to file and defend.
Additionally, any creditor may seek the court to identify a debt that shouldn’t be dismissed in your case by filing a nondischargeability complaint.
The creditor will have to demonstrate one of several scenarios in order to prevail.
You lied about your income on a credit application or wrote a bad check, for example, to commit fraud.
Less than 90 days before you filed for bankruptcy, you charged a luxury item.
You harmed or destroyed someone else’s property on purpose.
You stole money or embezzled money.
In your bankruptcy petition, you omitted a list of all your creditors.
It’s usually not a smart idea to represent yourself if you think you might have nondischargeable debts or that a creditor would sue you.
You must submit a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings are preferable than Chapter 7 filings for a variety of reasons. If you want to keep your home, you might wish to apply for Chapter 13 bankruptcy to pay off mortgage arrears. Alternatively, you might choose to pay off your second mortgage, “cram down” or reduce a car loan, or repay a debt over time that won’t be discharged in bankruptcy, such back taxes or support arrears.
Even if your main reason for filing for Chapter 13 is that your income is too high to qualify under Chapter 7, most Chapter 13 cases are too complicated for an individual to file on their own.
Why Filing a Chapter 13 Case Without a Bankruptcy Attorney Is Too Difficult
You must prepare a proposed Chapter 13 repayment plan outlining how you would pay creditors over a period of three to five years in addition to filling out the bankruptcy paperwork.
Without the pricey software that most attorneys use, it is difficult to develop a plan due to the numerous bankruptcy requirements you must follow. Additionally, particular measures like paying off a car debt in full or stripping your second mortgage will necessitate submitting additional bankruptcy motions and paperwork with the court.
The vast majority of Chapter 13 cases filed without counsel are dismissed by the court due to the complexity involved. Therefore, it is a good idea to hire an experienced attorney if you intend to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.