Deciding to pursue bankruptcy protection is a difficult decision often arrived at only as a last resort. Still, one of the biggest mistakes made when filing is waiting too long. Precious resources can be spent trying to pay creditors and keep the business afloat, which can ultimately hurt your chances of qualifying for protections.
A second, but equally large mistake, is trying to manage the process on your own. Cash-strapped individuals and businesses often look for ways to save money and cut costs, but declining to hire bankruptcy lawyers to represent you could end up costing you much more in the long run.
Different Types Of Bankruptcy
There are several different types of bankruptcy options. Chapters 7, 11 and 13 are the most common. Chapter 7 is used in the liquidation of assets and is most commonly used for individuals. Chapter 11 is open to both businesses and individuals and Chapter 13 is open to individuals who want to pursue a debt restructuring program, and protect existing assets rather than liquidate their assets.
Nuances Of Legal Representation
Sometimes it can be hard to determine if you need legal representation. The paperwork seems straightforward and your case is simple so you might think about representing yourself in court. This is allowed in Chapter 7 and 13 cases but Chapter 11 cases are required to have legal representation.
Although debtors can represent themselves in court, it is very difficult to do so successfully. The legal process is complex in even the best situations. When business and personal financials come in to play, the technicalities and complexities rise even further. It is vital to the success of your case to have knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyers representing you who can file and handle the case properly. A mistake as simple as forgetting to file one form can cost debtors their right to a case. The short and long-term financial consequences are too great to risk representing yourself. Bankruptcy lawyers are skilled in evaluating situations on a case-by-case basis, and then recommending an appropriate course of action.
Finding An Attorney
Finding a lawyer is as simple as contacting the state or local bar association. Most groups have a search function on their website allowing you to find attorneys who have experience in your type of situation. If you’re concerned about cost, contact the association. You might be able to find free attorney services or even law schools that offer pro bono work. The court system is also a good way to find free services and/or bar associations.
If you’re having financial difficulties, don’t try to fix it on your own. Many lawyers offer free consultations and can tell you if filing is a suitable option for you, your chances of a successful resolution, and the costs involved. They may even be able to recommend alternatives, like mediation or debt negotiation, if you talk to them before things get too bad.