Why Should I Hire a Bankruptcy Attorney?

Occasionally, I will browse through Craigslist and a few other legal advice sites to see what kinds of advertisements or questions people have about the bankruptcy process. This evening, I noticed a couple of very interesting posts that really illustrate why someone may want to hire a bankruptcy attorney.

Post #1
“Don’t pay an attorney money just to show up for 5 minutes in a suit. Pay a non-attorney money to prepare your documents instead.”

So, the basic point of this advertisement is that the only thing the attorney is good for is showing up at your meeting of creditors after the bankruptcy is filed. If that is all your attorney is doing for you, then you probably overpaid.

These are some of the things that an attorney can do for you that the non-attorney preparing your documents cannot:

  1. Tell you whether you even qualify for bankruptcy (known as legal advice).
  2. Explain the process and advise on which exemptions to use to protect your assets.
  3. Walk you through both bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy options based on your situation.
  4. Prepare and advise you on the process for hearings.
  5. Represent you at the required hearings.

A non-attorney can only type up forms and can only type on those forms what you tell him to type, not tell you what you should put on the documents. The actual preparing of the documents is a very small part of the bankruptcy process. That leads me to…

Post #2
This post was about someone looking for a bankruptcy attorney to help them because a paralegal gave them legal advice that was absolutely wrong and now the trustee is going after assets to sell.

In this case, it appears that the person who filed for bankruptcy had no intention of going through with it and just wanted to postpone a foreclosure sale. Unfortunately, there are non-exempt assets that the trustee is now interested in and the case cannot be dismissed.

At this point, it will cost a lot more money to hire an attorney to come in and fix the situation (if it can be fixed) than it would have cost to hire competent legal counsel to prepare the case properly. There is also the possibility that it cannot be fixed and the trustee will sell the assets – that could be your house or your car or the court will require you turn over insurance proceeds or money in a bank account.

You’re Just Saying This So You Have More Clients, Right?

Nope. I am not saying you have to hire me as your attorney. I just hate to see good people end up in horrible situations that could easily have been avoided with the right information and knowledge. It is very frustrating for me to not be able to help someone after the case has been filed because of bad or improper advice.

If you would like to meet with me, I am more than happy to go over all of the options available to you and look at what your goals are to see if we can come up with a solution to address as many of your financial issues as possible. I mostly want consumers to be informed and educated before making decisions that cannot be undone.

This is just a basic overview and is not legal advice specific to your situation. If you are considering bankruptcy or are feeling overwhelmed by debt, you should speak with an attorney in your area for legal advice. If you live in Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Santa Clara County, or San Joaquin County and would like to speak with me regarding your situation, please email me at jen@jenleelaw.com or call 925-586-6738 in the East Bay or 209-322-4651 in Tracy.

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