The right bankruptcy lawyer is a great asset in the financial crisis. He or she should be experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate.
You can find a bankruptcy attorney through a referral from friends and family or through legal aid offices. The bar association may also list attorneys who specialize in this area.
Knowledge of the Bankruptcy Code
The Bankruptcy Code, also called Title 11 of the United States Code, governs bankruptcy proceedings. A bankruptcy lawyer should be familiar with these rules and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (link is external).
An experienced bankruptcy lawyers should be able to counsel you about what kind of bankruptcy filing would work best for your situation. For example, Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor to erase certain unsecured debts like credit card debt, overdue utility and cell phone bills, personal loans, and some income taxes. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy, on the other hand, is designed for consumer debtors with regular income.
A qualified bankruptcy lawyer can advise you on what properties may be exempt from seizure. They can also help you understand the effect of bankruptcy on your credit score and what to expect from a reorganization proceeding, such as Chapter 11. For businesses, Chapter 11 allows them to keep their property and pay creditors over time.
Experience in Court
A bankruptcy lawyer’s experience in and out of court is important. Many lawyers have expertise in multiple areas of law, but you want to choose one that specializes in bankruptcy and takes the time to give each case the attention it deserves. You should be able to tell during your initial consultation how much attention your attorney will give you.
Bankruptcy is a complex process with many steps and deadlines, including meetings with creditors and judges. The right lawyer will know what to expect and guide you through the process smoothly.
Some people worry they will lose property in a bankruptcy filing, but exemptions ensure most people retain their assets. A good bankruptcy attorney will explain the process, your options and potential outcomes in a free consultation. Also, a good bankruptcy lawyer will be able to handle issues arising from or related to the bankruptcy proceedings, such as how to deal with creditors that don’t comply with the automatic stay (the court order that stops them from collecting during your bankruptcy). They will be able to advise you about alternative debt resolutions when necessary.
Ability to Negotiate
The ability to negotiate is crucial for a successful bankruptcy. Lenders want to receive payment for their debts, so they may be willing to settle in order to avoid losing money through a lawsuit or collection agency fees.
Many people think they can save on legal fees by filing for bankruptcy without an attorney, but in actuality, it is often more cost-effective to hire a lawyer. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can ensure that the process is done correctly and efficiently, and prevent mistakes that could cost more in the long run.
A lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy is likely to be familiar with the nuances of the law and up-to-date on the latest developments. Be wary of lawyers who dabble in multiple areas of practice, as they may not be up to speed on the complexities of bankruptcy law. Likewise, avoid attorneys who have “bankruptcy mills,” where they handle large numbers of cases and do not focus on the details of each case.
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The New York bankruptcy attorneys at Charles Juntikka & Associates know the ins and outs of New York Bankruptcy law, and can help you get a fresh start. They derive real satisfaction from using the power of New York Bankruptcy law to eliminate debt and stop creditors from harassing their clients.
Daniel Gershburg is an experienced New York City bankruptcy attorney with a passion for helping people with their financial struggles. He helps his clients file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy to get a fresh start. He also assists individuals with other legal concerns, including immigration and civil litigation. He is an active member of the Brooklyn Bar Association.