Bankruptcy and overwhelming debt are an unfortunate reality for many individuals and families. Facing bankruptcy, collection agencies, or similar challenges can be a daunting challenge for anyone. But being well-informed and, if necessary, finding good legal help can help alleviate the stress and burden surrounding bankruptcy and debt. If you are struggling with debt, you may want to get help from a credit counselor to develop a personalized plan for getting back on track. Legitimate credit counseling agencies offer free credit counseling or low-fee debt management plans to low-income consumers. Below, you will find resources and information to help you locate and hire an attorney specializing in consumer bankruptcies and debt, as well as helpful forms and resources. Please select from the links below to get started.
Using a Bankruptcy Attorney
Handling debt and bankruptcy can be confusing and often overwhelming, especially when you're faced with financial insolvency. While doing your own research is important, sometimes it's in your best interests to consult with an attorney. An experienced bankruptcy and debt attorney will evaluate your case and explain all of your legal options. This should cover everything from the bankruptcy process to more informal debt relief actions such as negotiating with creditors and reaching a non-bankruptcy "debt workout" agreement.
For Chapter 7 filings, the average debtor can have their debts discharged within six months. For Chapter 13 filings, the process can take from three to five years. In either case, having an attorney can help you navigate these proceedings.
Checklist: Documents to Show to Your Bankruptcy Attorney
When faced with credit problems and potential bankruptcy, hiring an attorney might be the answer to getting your financial life back on track. People don't always know where to start and what to do. If you're planning to contact an attorney, use a checklist to gather the documents that the attorney will need to see to provide you with the best advice and representation. This checklist should include financial records, legal records, and a combination of assets you own, and verification of your income.
Bankruptcy Forms and Resources
Whether you're seeking information about credit counseling services or plan to file for bankruptcy protection, you'll need to become acquainted with various legal forms, filing procedures, and government offices. Without the proper guidance, navigating these forms and procedures can make filing for bankruptcy a pretty overwhelming experience. You'll want to find your state's bankruptcy court directory, learn how to draft "cease communications" letter to creditors, hire a bankruptcy attorney (if necessary), gather the correct documents, and review the text of U.S. bankruptcy laws in order to prepare yourself.
United States Bankruptcy Courts
Bankruptcy courts are part of the federal judicial system. This means bankruptcy proceedings are governed by federal law. If you live in a state with more than one district, and you are not sure which district you are in, most of the bankruptcy court websites provide lists or maps of counties that are within that district. Before you file your bankruptcy petition, make sure you have listed every creditor that you owe money to. Failure to do so can result in dismissal of your bankruptcy petition. Further, lying on a bankruptcy petition can result in a jail sentence.
How a Debtor-Creditor Attorney Can Help
If you have additional questions about how to pay off debt or need legal representation, consider speaking with a Debtor-Creditor Lawyer in your area. Seeking a consultation with an attorney to help you decide whether you need legal representation or can simply go it alone. Many debtor/creditor attorneys offer consultations free of charge.