Below are a list of reasons as to why you should hire a bankruptcy attorney instead of trying to file the case yourself:
1. Exemptions. A bankruptcy attorney can safely gauge what state exemptions you should use and how they apply to your assets. Why is this important? If you have $40,000 in equity in your house you may be protected in South Carolina but, if you have moved in the last few years, there may be a chance another state’s exemptions applies. You would not want to lose the equity in your house because you chose the wrong exemption!
2. Drafting a Chapter 13 Plan. If you have never drafted a Chapter 13 plan, you need a bankruptcy attorney. Even if you can find a rough draft on the internet, each state has “local rules” that change the Chapter 13 plan terms. In addition, individual terms such as interest rate can change on a yearly basis in each district.
3. Determining the value of your assets. You need an experienced bankruptcy attorney to help you evaluate the correct value of your property.
4. Case Analysis. You need an experienced bankruptcy attorney to help you evaluate if Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 is the right path for you. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and you need to know which one best fits you.
5. Trustee hearing. I don’t care who you are- it can be overwhelming to attend a hearing without an attorney by your side to get you prepared for the trustee hearing. By hiring a bankruptcy attorney, you will be assured that you are told which documents are needed to send to the Trustee before hand and what questions the Trustee will answer at the hearing.
6. Trustee or Creditor objections. You will need a bankruptcy attorney to help negotiate compromises and settlements if and when a Trustee or Creditor objects.