When you begin to consider bankruptcy as a way to get yourself out of overwhelming and mounting debt, you may wonder if you need the help of a bankruptcy attorney. The short answer is that in Georgia, you do not have to get help from a legal professional to file for bankruptcy. However, you still may want to consider all the value that a bankruptcy lawyer brings to the table, especially if you do not have a legal background or related expertise.
Hiring a Bankruptcy Lawyer Versus Filing Pro Se
When you file for bankruptcy without the help of an attorney, you are considered a pro se filer. Pro se filers often have the best of intentions, but may find the process much more difficult than they assumed it would be. There are a few reasons for this reaction:
- Emotions. It can be very challenging being the person filing for bankruptcy and also the one who has to walk alone through the bankruptcy process alone. Not only do you have to figure out how to do everything on your own, which can lead to mistakes and inefficiencies, but you have no one to ask for legal advice.
- Laws. The laws surrounding filing for consumer bankruptcy can be confusing, even for people who are well-versed in the legal profession. Plus, bankruptcy laws and regulations can change over time. A law firm that has a reputation for handling a lot of bankruptcy cases has a better handle on how to lawfully and correctly navigate the bankruptcy process.
- Continued guidance. After moving your bankruptcy case through bankruptcy court, you will be on your own. Many people forget that this can be a time when they are most apt to revert to the habits that contributed to their debt problems. Again, having a bankruptcy lawyer prepare you to handle this transitional period can be invaluable.
Are you concerned that you might not be able to afford an attorney to represent you? Discuss the possibility of a modest retainer followed by payment plans to help you get the assistance you need.
Signs You May Want to Consider Bankruptcy
At this point, you may still not even be sure that filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 consumer bankruptcy makes sense for your situation. Some commonalities among people who end up taking advantage of bankruptcy as a means to reduce or eliminate most of their debts include:
- You can no longer keep up with your debts. Even with your income, you see no way to pay off what you owe.
- You are overwhelmed by constant calls from creditors demanding their money. This is leading to stress, depression, and other mental and physical problems.
- You had an unexpectedly large expense, such as a medical bill, that completely wiped out your savings. Now, you are swamped in consumer debt and cannot make ends meet.
- You went through a difficult life change, such as divorce. The bills keep piling up and you are unable to pay off everything fast enough.
About Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Consumer Bankruptcy
The two types of consumer bankruptcy available to individuals or married partners are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves getting rid of most of your assets in order to pay down your debt and pay off creditors as much as possible. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, you may very well lose your house and other property. However, Chapter 7 gives you a fresh start by getting you as close to zero remaining debts as possible. Despite the downsides to Chapter 7, it can be the right decision under specific circumstances.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a bit different because it is meant for people who just need extra time to pay off their debts. In other words, Chapter 13 is a good solution if you have a steady paycheck and simply need a way to reduce the amount you owe every month with each of your creditors. A bankruptcy attorney will work with you to develop a plan to negotiate new payment arrangements with creditors so you can get out of debt within about three to five years.
Whether you choose Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you should remember that your credit will take a hit for at least seven years. However, this can be a small price to pay in order to get yourself in a better financial position.
Getting a Fresh Start With a Good Bankruptcy Attorney
If you have been inundated with calls, certified letters, and emails from debt collectors from Georgia and beyond, do not despair. Bankruptcy may give you an opportunity to recover from even a serious financial crisis.
To schedule an appointment with a bankruptcy lawyer at the Law Office of Jeffrey B. Kelly, please call (770) 809-3099 to talk with a compassionate member of the team. You can also start the process to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation about bankruptcy by making a request online at our website.
Bankruptcy does not have to be the end. It can offer new beginnings and give you the breathing room you deserve. Contact our bankruptcy law firm with offices in Rome, Dalton, Kennesaw, Douglasville, Cartersville, Dallas, and Marietta, GA, today.