Family and House
Understanding the Florida Homestead Exemption
April 15, 2018
Couple moving out of home
Avoiding Foreclosure in Bankruptcy
May 15, 2018
Show all

Do I Need a Bankruptcy Attorney?

Meeting with Bankruptcy Lawyer

When someone is considering filing for bankruptcy, the last thing that person wants to do is incur additional debt to hire a bankruptcy attorney. While it can be tempting to try to save costs by handling bankruptcy without an attorney, it is not always the best decision to make.

Chapter 7 Without Bankruptcy Attorney

If the filer has a simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy situation, it is possible to handle the matter without a bankruptcy attorney. A simple Chapter 7 case would typically mean the following circumstances apply:

  • The filer’s household income is below the Florida median income level;
  • The filer has no property;
  • No recent property transfers or payments to a preferred creditor have been made;
  • The creditors are likely to not dispute the fact that the debts are nondischargeable.

It should be kept in mind that even if the Chapter 7 filing seems “simple,” this does not mean that it is easy. The filer will need to do some research to properly prepare the petition. Not preparing the forms properly or not submitting everything properly can result in the case being thrown out. It can help to at least have assistance in preparing the initial paperwork.

When an Attorney Is Needed

Certain situations almost always call for the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney, including the following:

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy:

If the filer is proceeding with Chapter 13 bankruptcy, an attorney’s assistance can be helpful. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also referred to as reorganization bankruptcy, allowing the bankruptcy filer to work with the trustee to come up with a plan to pay back qualified debts through a structured plan that lasts anywhere from three to five years.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is more complex than a Chapter 7 filing, and it can require a great deal of back and forth with the trustee. The filer will want a realistic repayment plan that is fair to creditors and will be approved by the court. An attorney can assist in making sure that the plan is beneficial to all concerned and will be approved by the bankruptcy court.

Complex Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:

Sometimes a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a lot more complex than it appears at first glance. If the filer has a significant amount of income or assets that may disqualify him or her from filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy under the means test, an attorney may need to be retained.

If the debtor also has concerns about assets he or she may lose if Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed, an attorney should be consulted, as well. Additionally, an attorney may be needed if the filer owns a business, if the debtor has debts that may not be discharged in bankruptcy, if he or she has recently transferred assets out of the debtor’s name into someone else’s name, or if creditors will be challenging the discharge.

Why Contact an Attorney?

Even if the debtor is not 100 percent sure he or she wants to hire an attorney, it is advisable to at least consult with one before deciding how to proceed. The attorney can advise the individual on whether bankruptcy is in his or her best interest or whether other options exist instead of bankruptcy.

The attorney can advise the individual as to whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the best option. The attorney can also ensure that all paperwork is prepared properly and filed in the correct manner to make sure the bankruptcy is successful.

A bankruptcy attorney will also represent the debtor at all bankruptcy matters and hearings, including the meeting of creditors where creditors will have a chance to dispute debt discharge. The peace of mind that an attorney can give the debtor can also make the process that much easier, as well.

How Much Do Bankruptcy Attorneys Cost?

Bankruptcy attorney fees are based on the complexity of the bankruptcy case, as well as the type of bankruptcy being filed. Fees can range anywhere from $500 to $3,500 for a Chapter 7 case to up to $6,000 for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, since these types of cases tend to be more labor-intensive and last longer than the other type.

Many times, the filer simply cannot afford the fees associated with hiring a bankruptcy lawyer. In some Chapter 13 plans, the debtor can pay attorney fees through the repayment plan.

Contact Us Today

At RLC Lawyers & Consultants, we are here to walk you through this stressful process of bankruptcy. To request to schedule a consultation, please call us at 561.571.9610 or send an email to info@rlcfl.com.