What Does a Bankruptcy Attorney Do?

Are you drowning in debt? Bankruptcy can give you a fresh start, but the process is harder than many realize. 

You may be wondering, “Do I need a lawyer for bankruptcy?”

The answer is an emphatic yes. Bankruptcy paperwork requires an extensive time commitment.

Moreover, a bankruptcy attorney can increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. People who file for bankruptcy on their own are less likely to win their cases.

This article will show you how a bankruptcy lawyer can help you. Let’s explore.

The Statistics Don’t Lie

People who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy do so successfully at a rate of 6%. The numbers are even lower for those who file Chapter 13, as filers only succeeded around 2% of the time. 

If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, for example, you can increase your success rate by around 44% with an attorney. Success in bankruptcy cases means getting your debts discharged and/or setting up a payment plan.

According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, filers can clear their debts at a 96% success rate with an attorney’s help. 

The Important Role of a Bankruptcy Lawyer 

Bankruptcy matters are complex and can confuse filers. Even if you know bankruptcy laws, you could still lose your case based on minor mistakes. Additionally, there are various procedures you must follow, such as:

  1. Collecting documentation
  2. Taking credit courses
  3. Submitting bankruptcy documents
  4. Filing bankruptcy forms with the courts
  5. Mailing documents to a trustee
  6. Enrolling in a bankruptcy course
  7. Attending 341 meetings

Failure to meet any of these obligations could result in a bankruptcy dismissal. 

However, legal counsel can ensure you submit all documentation without delay. Attorneys can help you gather the following types of documentation:

  • Income statements from the past six months
  • Tax returns from the past two years
  • Documentation noting all assets and debts
  • Asset valuations (i.e. real estate or stocks)
  • Brokerage or retirement account information 

All of the documents can be hard to track, but attorneys can help you organize all the paperwork. Further, you must send these documents to the appropriate places.

Your attorney will also tell you where to submit the forms. For instance, they can tell you when to submit documentation to the courts and when to send them to the trustee.   

A legal professional can also keep track of bankruptcy forms. Bankruptcy documents usually consist of 23 different documents. In total, you’ll complete 70 pages.

However, bankruptcy attorneys can complete these documents on your behalf. Finishing the paperwork on your own is labor-intensive, and you could also make a mistake in the process. Any mistake on the forms may cause delays or dismissals.

You can avert errors with a legal professional who knows how to complete bankruptcy forms impeccably. 

When it comes to bankruptcy courses, you must complete the coursework to move your case forward. If you don’t know where to take credit courses and bankruptcy courses, an attorney can guide you in the right direction. 

The 341 Meeting

The 341 meeting consists of a short hearing with your creditors. The hearing isn’t a court session.

Further, there’s a strong chance you’ll never see the inside of a courtroom throughout the entire bankruptcy process. Additionally, most creditors won’t show up for the hearing. 

In a 341 meeting, you’ll meet with a trustee who will swear you under oath. Even though 341 meetings aren’t courtroom procedures, you’re still under oath.

From there, the creditors will discuss your assets, making sure you didn’t leave any assets out of your documents. Having an attorney during this phase is crucial, as you’ll undergo additional scrutiny during the hearing. The following issues may arise:

  • If you’ll receive life insurance payouts or an inheritance
  • If someone owes you money
  • If another person is holding property on your behalf
  • If you have a legitimate claim to business assets
  • If you have any assets within your estate

They could also ask how you arrived at your asset calculations. These questions can be daunting, but a legal professional can help you give the right answers. You must also prepare for the hearing. You’ll need various documents that include:

  • Income statements
  • Photo ID
  • Social Security card
  • Bankruptcy documents

You’ll also need documents requested by the courts or the trustee. An attorney can help you gather all the necessary documents. Plus, they can provide further assistance if you have trouble finding certain documents. 

What to Expect when Meeting a Bankruptcy Lawyer

Before an attorney accepts your case, you must pay attorney fees. You must pay the attorney fees upfront.

With that, many attorneys offer flexible payment plans and affordable fees. Be wary of low fees, however, as you want a competent attorney to handle your case. Inexperienced attorneys usually charge the lowest rates. 

Upon meeting the attorney, he or she will give you an honest assessment of your case and how you can obtain a discharge. The lawyer will also recommend the best bankruptcy option for you.

For individual bankruptcy, hire an attorney knows about Chapter 7 bankruptcy. More importantly, your attorney should specialize in bankruptcy issues. A general practice attorney isn’t enough. Above all, your lawyer should have a solid history of winning bankruptcy cases. 

How a Bankruptcy Attorney Can Make Your Life Easier

A bankruptcy attorney can streamline the process from beginning to end. They can help you gather paperwork, help you file on time, help you take the necessary courses, and help you prepare you for creditor meetings. 

You’re also more likely to achieve your bankruptcy goals with the help of legal professionals. When finding an attorney, hire one who knows bankruptcy court procedures and knows how to win cases effectively. 

Do you need help with your bankruptcy case? Click here to learn more about Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

7 Reasons to Hire an Elder Law Attorney

As a senior, you have many challenging issues to work through, from finding long-term care to sorting out finances. Do you have an expert who can help you?

All seniors should have an elder law attorney to help them navigate the legal system. What is elder law? Simply, it refers to an area of legal practice that specializes in issues that impact seniors and the elderly population.

Are you thinking about hiring an elder law attorney? If so, keep reading to find seven reasons why you or a loved one can benefit from specialized legal care.

1. An Elder Law Attorney Understands Estate Planning

One important reason to use the services of an elder care attorney is for help with estate planning.

Estate planning is a complex topic and involves the preparation of your finances, living arrangements, and your healthcare needs. An elder care lawyer can manage your wishes and can help distribute your assets in a way that avoids your dependents having to pay excessive fees.

An expert attorney can assist with both estate planning and wills, ensuring your wishes are respected.

2. Help with Medicare and Medicaid Claims

Making sense of Medicare and Medicaid can be confusing, and sometimes it’s almost impossible to figure out what services you do and don’t qualify for.

Getting answers from Medicare isn’t always easy either, so sometimes it helps to have a qualified elder law lawyer to look over your situation and advise.

This can help you receive the medical care you’re entitled to and you don’t pay unnecessarily for medical treatment.

3. Long-Term Care Financing

Assisted-care facilities and nursing home care can be extremely expensive, with the average cost for a private room in a nursing home reaching $7,698 per month.

Is this covered by your insurance? Do you need help sorting out your estate or financing to free up money to cover your expenses?

An elder care lawyer can assist with nursing home financing and managing your assets to ensure you get the care you need.

Or, if you have any legal issues resulting from the services provided by your nursing home team, you may want a lawyer to help you seek compensation.

For example, if you aren’t receiving access to the services or care that were offered when you moved in, this can be an issue of deceptive advertising, something sometimes seen in the nursing care industry. 

4. Probate

A key reason many people use elder law attorneys is for assistance with probate. Probate is the legal process of verifying and validating a will before it can be carried out.

Disputes when it comes to wills are not common. But, if there is reason to believe that the will is not accurate or was created when the person was not of sound mind, then the will may be called into question, which requires probate.

Dealing with probate for a loved one’s will can be emotional and stressful, so you’ll want to work with an elder law lawyer to manage the situation. With the help of a lawyer, you can ensure the last requests of your loved one are looked after and that the will is administered fairly.

5. Elder Abuse Cases

Shockingly, elder abuse is more common than you might think. It’s estimated that one in ten Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some sort of elder abuse.

This can be physical, but can also be emotional. Or, they may be financially exploited, neglected, or deprived of their basic necessities.

If you or someone who you love is experiencing elder abuse, this is a serious criminal matter that requires investigation. You’ll need to hire a lawyer who can represent you in court, potentially file charges, and represent your interests.

Should you suspect elder abuse, contact 911 in emergency cases or report it by calling Adult Protective Services.

6. Issues Specific to Veterans

Many of our honored American veterans are now aging, and are reaching the point where they may need additional medical care and support.

Veteran seniors qualify for a huge range of benefits through Veterans Affairs, but it can be confusing to understand how it all works and what you’re entitled to in terms of healthcare and benefits.

Veterans may also need to attend particular veterans’ hospitals, which may pose challenges in terms of access and transportation.

If you or your loved one is a veteran who needs help managing their benefits, an elder law attorney can assist.

7. Issues of Discrimination

Unfortunately, discrimination against seniors is common in our society, especially in the workplace.

Have you applied for a job or a promotion and feel like you were passed over, due to your age? Many older adults still love being part of the workforce, but employers often prefer to hire younger workers.

Age-related discrimination is a crime, so if you were discriminated against, an elder law lawyer can help you form a case and fight for the compensation you’re entitled to.

You may also see age-related discrimination in the housing market, such as when applying for an apartment. Discrimination is against the law, so don’t let it happen to you.

Contact Us Today for Elder Law Support

With so many complexities to navigate as we get older, an elder law attorney can be a great asset. They’re someone who you can depend on to assist with all your needs.

If you need an expert legal team for your legal care needs, get in touch today. Watertown Law is an expert legal team, servicing the Watertown and Lake Mills areas of Wisconsin.

Founded in 1939, we have a long history of serving the community. Our team has over 200 years of combined experience, ensuring you and your loved ones receive the highest quality of legal care.

For all of your elder law needs, contact us today. Our friendly team looks forward to hearing from you.