The Advantages Of Hiring a Professional Bankruptcy Attorney In Arizona
Declaring bankruptcy, and paying all the filing and legal fees, can seem like a Catch-22. The filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $338, and the filing fee for a Chapter 13 is $313. You can expect to pay much more for attorney’s fees. So you may be wondering if the expense of retaining a bankruptcy lawyer is really worth it. A bankruptcy attorney can help you at every step of the process, make sure your assets are protected, and straighten out any issues along the way. Mistakes in your bankruptcy could mean delays in your case, extra fees, your possessions being taken, or your case being dismissed. An Arizona bankruptcy attorney can also point you in the right direction when it comes to rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy.
Success Rates With & Without An Attorney
If you’re serious about successfully discharging your debts in bankruptcy, you will definitely want to consider hiring an attorney. The discharge and dismissal rates for self-represented and attorney-represented bankruptcy filers provide a clear view of how your case may fare. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, approximately 96% of cases that are filed with an attorney are discharged. This is compared to about 66% of Chapter 7 bankruptcies that are filed without an attorney. This difference is even more dramatic when it comes to Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The success rate for self-represented Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases is about 1%. When a Chapter 13 case is filed with an attorney, the discharge rate increases to 41%. Clearly, hiring an attorney will significantly improve your chances of successfully discharging your debts through bankruptcy.
What An Arizona Bankruptcy Attorney Does
The first thing an Arizona bankruptcy attorney will do is discuss your situation in a consultation. Consultations generally last 30 minutes to an hour, and can be held in office or over the phone. Your attorney can help you determine which chapters of bankruptcy you can file, and which would help you the most. If you decide to retain the attorney, you will begin working together to draft your bankruptcy petition. Your attorney will provide you with a list of documents that will be relevant to your petition based on your specific circumstances. Once you have provided your attorney with them, your attorney will draft your petition. You and your attorney will review the petition together to make sure everything is accurate, and then your attorney will make sure your petition and all the accompanying documents are filed. Your attorney will keep track of any issues with the trustee or your creditors during the case and assist you with them.
Approximately 30 to 45 days after your case has been filed, you and your attorney will attend your 341 Meeting of Creditors. Your creditors have the opportunity to attend this hearing to argue against their debts being discharged in your bankruptcy in front of your bankruptcy trustee. You may need to attend other hearings, depending on the options you choose in your bankruptcy. Your attorney will also file your credit counseling course completion certificates with the court.
Emergency Filings For Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcies In Arizona
It isn’t uncommon for clients to come to us the day before a wage garnishment is about to start, or in some other emergency situation that requires a fast filing. If you need to be filed quickly, an attorney can help you get it done faster, and correctly. Your attorney may do so using a skeleton or emergency petition. This is a brief version of your petition that will only include information about your income. You will have two weeks after that petition is filed to file the rest of your bankruptcy petition, which is usually well over 50 pages long. It’s vital that you calculate your income and determine your eligibility correctly here, as mistakes could mean a temporary lapse in the Automatic Stay- giving your creditors the chance to repossess your assets, foreclose your home, etc.
Potential Obstacles In a Bankruptcy Filing In Arizona
There are several reasons it is advantageous to hire an Arizona attorney for your bankruptcy. Without an attorney’s guidance, there are some issues that could arise in your case that could be more expensive than hiring an attorney in the first place.
- Miscalculating your average monthly income or Means Test and filing under Chapter 7 when you don’t actually qualify.
- Filing before you have met waiting period and residency requirements.
- Failing to apply exemptions to all of your assets, resulting in the trustee seizing them to sell at auction.
- Preferential payments and credit card spending outside the bankruptcy code’s limits in the months before your bankruptcy.
- Omitting some of your creditors from your creditor mailing matrix, or including the wrong mailing address.
- Filing your petition without necessary accompanying documentation like your creditor mailing matrix or credit counseling course certificate.
- Making errors when calculating your Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan payments.
- Mistiming your bankruptcy filing, such as before your tax return is spent or on your payday when your bank accounts exceed state exemptions.
Bankruptcy Payment Plans
While the concept of paying thousands for your bankruptcy may seem daunting, fortunately, some bankruptcy attorneys offer payment options that can make filing bankruptcy more affordable. When you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your attorney’s fees can be worked into your bankruptcy payment plan. You will just need to find an attorney who is flexible with a down payment towards a Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you can’t afford all of your fees up front.
It can be trickier to find a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney with flexible payment options. This is because unsecured debts- like unpaid attorney’s fees- are wiped away when incurred before the petition filing date. So if an attorney were to file a standard Chapter 7 bankruptcy and agree to accept monthly payments from the client after their case has been filed, the client would technically have no legal obligation to pay it back. The attorney would have to rely on their bankruptcy clients’ word alone, which can be too risky to be profitable.
Our bankruptcy attorneys have represented thousands of clients, so we know just how difficult it can be for some of them to pay for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy up front. That’s why we chose to implement a Zero Down Bankruptcy Payment Plan option. In this payment option, your case will first be filed as a skeleton petition, which is described above under emergency filings. This type of petition only includes basic information and income information to confirm that you qualify for that chapter you filed.
Once this petition has been filed, you can begin accruing debts once more. Your attorney will charge for all work completed from that point, such as completing your full petition, reviewing it with you during your petition signing, and attending your 341 Meeting of Creditors. Additionally, your payments will begin after your case has been filed; after wage garnishments and other collection efforts from creditors are halted. Also, your plan includes a 0% interest rate, and you will have one year from the filing date to pay your balance.
An additional bonus to this payment option is that it includes credit reporting, so your timely payments will help you reestablish your credit after bankruptcy. Contact us for your free consultation to see if you qualify today.