One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from our Georgian friends and neighbors is, “Do I really need a bankruptcy lawyer?” Since bankruptcy lawyers charge fees to file a client’s bankruptcy case, a person who is already having financial difficulties may feel that a lawyer is simply too expensive or not worth the cost.
For some people, their individual case may be very simple and straightforward thereby removing the need to work with an experienced lawyer. However, others may have very complex cases involving multiple mortgages, retirement accounts, trusts, lawsuits, annuities, etc. In general, the more complex the case, the more likely a person should work with an attorney.
First and foremost, it should be emphasized that there is no legal requirement to work with an attorney. You can certainly file a bankruptcy case on your own, and many people choose to do so, but there are many dangers and pitfalls that a bankruptcy attorney will help you avoid. Many attorneys will provide you with a consultation for a specific period of time (normally 30 minutes to 1 hour) wherein they go over your documents and give you a snapshot of the complexities and circumstances of your case. From there, you can decide if you want to officially hire the firm to represent you in the bankruptcy process.
Additionally, working with an attorney takes a lot of the pressure off of you as the debtor. The bankruptcy process can be a long, stressful, and emotional time for the debtor and his or her family. Not only are you coping with your household’s financial difficulties, but you also have to make sure you complete the needed paperwork correctly, ensure that you don’t miss the 341 creditor meeting, remember to complete the credit counseling course, and several other requirements that are needed for a successful bankruptcy case. If you hire an attorney, he or she will make sure you complete all of the requirements, will send you reminders about upcoming court dates, and will answer all of your questions and concerns along the way.
Moreover, working with an attorney may not be as expensive as you think. There are probably several bankruptcy attorneys in your area, and it is likely that each of their offices charges different legal fees and has a different payment structure. Some firms require all of the fee upfront, while others split the fees into monthly payments or two installments. For some debtors, the option to space out the fee across several months make hiring an attorney easier. If this is the situation in your case, you should inform the attorney’s office – you may be surprised at how many firms are willing to work with clients in order to make sure that everyone has good and fair representation during the bankruptcy process.
Finally, it must be firmly understood that the bankruptcy process can be very, very complicated. While it is true that many bankruptcy courts have pamphlets and other explanatory materials, these documents are no substitute for an attorney’s training, experience, and expertise. Many people feel that they can simply “Google it” if they have a bankruptcy question but this is a very bad idea. While the Internet has lots of good information, there is also a lot of false and misleading information out there as well. If you hire an attorney, you can rest easy knowing that a trained professional is taking care of your case.
Do you have more questions about working with a bankruptcy attorney? Contact our office today at 404-913-1529, we look forward to speaking with you!