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Are you considering filing for bankruptcy? Just the word bankruptcy can strike fear into a person’s heart, but it does not have to be a frightening process. When you declare bankruptcy, it actually gives you some breathing room. You have the opportunity to pay down or eliminate your debts, and creditors can no longer garnish your wages or harass you for the money you owe. By going through the court system, you’re being proactive and developing a plan to resolve your money problems.

Before you file bankruptcy, you’ll need to decide which type of bankruptcy is in your best interests. There are several different types of bankruptcy, but as an individual you will likely need to choose between two: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Each is a way to restructure and eliminate debts, but the way they go about it is different.

  • With a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a court-appointed trustee takes stock of all your assets and liquidates (sells) most of them to pay your creditors. Some assets, like your car or household furnishings may be exempt. In some cases, you may also be able to keep your house.
  • A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is focused on creating a repayment plan to reduce secured debts, while eliminating unsecured debts. If you file Chapter 13, you won’t need to sell your assets, but will enter a repayment plan, paying off debts over three to five years. It’s also called a wage earner’s plan or repayment plan.

Do you need a lawyer to file bankruptcy? Technically, no. Practically, probably yes. You can file for bankruptcy on your own in a process called pro se filing. However, data from the American Bankruptcy Institute indicates that Chapter 7 pro se filers are 10 times more likely to have a negative outcome than those filers who are represented by lawyers. Sometimes their cases are dismissed, and sometimes, some of their debt discharge requests are denied. Why does the process run more smoothly when an attorney is representing you?

It’s because bankruptcy attorneys know what they’re doing. They know which chapter is best for you, and they understand the bankruptcy process. They’re experienced and knowledgeable, and they can give you answers about the process without you having to research it on your own. They also know what it takes to get a good outcome in a bankruptcy, because they know how to handle your paperwork in a way that’s going to sway the court in your favor. What’s more, people who file their own bankruptcy sometimes unintentionally commit fraud, because they do not fully understand the rules. Having a bankruptcy lawyer on your corner gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing all the details have been properly handled.

Beyond this, bankruptcy attorneys make your life easier! They deal with your creditors, so you don’t have to go through that kind of stress. Even if a creditor calls you during your bankruptcy, you can redirect that call to your attorney. Additionally, bankruptcy involves a mountain of paperwork, and do you really want to do all of that on your own? A lawyer can handle It for you, and because the lawyer understands the process, it will go more quickly than if you did it on your own. What’s more, if you do it on your own, you’re likely to make costly mistakes. Paying the lawyer’s fee is less expensive than losing money unnecessarily in your bankruptcy case.

Richards & Richards Law Firm, P.L.L.C. is a full service law firm in Ogden, Utah, dedicated to easing your stress, protecting your rights, and getting you what you deserve. Our family-owned firm offers top-notch legal advice and provides the highest-quality professional legal services at an affordable price. No matter what legal services you need, we can help. We have more than 30 years of legal experience on our side, and we’re committed to focusing our full attention on the needs of each individual client, in order to achieve the best possible results for each case. Call us today at (512) 461-4836 or contact us through our website to schedule a legal consultation with our friendly, experienced, bankruptcy lawyers.