Bankruptcy can help individuals who are going through an extreme financial hardship get a fresh start. Bankruptcy can also save your home from foreclosure, stop harassing creditor calls, and stop wage garnishments. In some cases, Bankruptcy can even eliminate second and third mortgages on your home, as well as reduce the mortgages on your investment properties down to the market value of the property today. Bankruptcy is a complicated process, however, that requires specific knowledge of the law and procedures associated with it.
In bankruptcy an individual or a business, known as the Debtor, files a Petition for Relief in Bankruptcy Court, asking the Court for what is known as a Discharge of their debt. A Discharge is a Court order, signed by a US Bankruptcy Judge, that states that the Debtor is no longer required to pay his or her Creditors.
As in any court, individuals have a right to represent themselves before the Bankruptcy Court. However, bankruptcy is a complex area and involves many considerations, including whether to file, the election of the appropriate chapter, the use of exemptions to protect your assest, understanding all of the protections of the Bankruptcy Code and using them to the your advantage. The right decision for you depends on an evaluation of your family status, your assets, your obligations, and other factors. It is possible in a bankruptcy that a debtor, not familiar with the laws and procedures of the Bankruptcy process, will lose all assets and still come out owing all or some of his or her debts. Only a lawyer can explain to you how the process works and help you reach an intelligent decision.
Some debtors use non-lawyer bankruptcy petition preparers or filing services to complete the schedules and documents which must be filed with the bankruptcy petition. While this may cost less initially than consulting an attorney, these non-lawyer services, by law, cannot give legal advice before or after the filing, and cannot represent the debtor in the Bankruptcy Court.
If you are contemplating a Bankruptcy, then you need to consider hiring an attorney. Certain complexities in the law make it extremely difficult for a debtor to successfully conclude a Bankruptcy case without the assistance of an attorney.