Bankruptcy Attorney Advice - Why Get a Bankruptcy Law Attorney?
Do I need a bankruptcy attorney?
When considering whether or not you need a bankruptcy attorney, consider the old adage, "He who represents himself has a fool for a client". Filing bankruptcy is no exception and may be a prime example of a law case that necessitates an attorney's guidance.
Although it might be tempting save on lawyer's fees by representing yourself in a bankruptcy case, keep in mind that mounds of paperwork are just the beginning. Bankruptcy cases are often complex and any mistake can bring on charges of bankruptcy fraud. Although it is legal in the United States to file a chapter of bankruptcy pro se, or without the help of an attorney, it is not recommended that you do so.
According to Robert A. Goering, a certified bankruptcy law attorney with the Cincinnati-based law firm Goering & Goering, using an attorney can make all the difference:
"Its federal law that if you do false disclose on your bankruptcy forms, it's a half million dollar fine and five years in federal prison," he said. "If you do it yourself you just open yourself up for problems."
Why filing bankruptcy without an attorney might not be such a good idea.
When making a decision on whether or not to hire a bankruptcy attorney, you will doubtless come across a swarm of advertisements from bankruptcy petition preparers and paralegal services, all claiming that an attorney is unnecessary. But even their services are limited.
"They can't give you legal advice," said Goering. Because the bankruptcy petition preparers and the paralegals are not credited as attorneys by the American Board of Certification, they are legally prohibited from providing any legal advice. Neither can these services assess your case, explain the law, answer questions or help you in court. And if there is a mistake, they are rarely held liable.
"The simple view is to have a bankruptcy lawyer do a bankruptcy for you, for around $1000, while those other services charge you $200," explains Goering. "You'll save $500 to $800 to do it on your on - is it worth chancing it for a few hundred bucks?"
If you do decide to eschew a lawyer and go with the services of a bankruptcy petition preparer, make certain that they abide by federal law and print all their personal contact information on the forms they prepare, as well as sign each one. They may not, however, provide their signature in lieu of yours, and their payment must remain separate from the judge-approved court fees.
Goering suggests contacting a lawyer no matter what decision you make.
"Most lawyers don't charge you to talk to them," he said, "so I recommend talking to them in order to review your situation and go over the complexities of it."