Bankruptcy Lawyers In Los Angeles — Cheap Or Die
If you are experiencing severe financial problems and are thinking about filing bankruptcy, you’re probably pretty strapped for cash. You may worry about coming up with the funds needed for a bankruptcy attorney. With creditors knocking at your door constantly, you might foolishly select a bankruptcy attorney based solely on price, or worse yet, choose to file without an attorney.
Cheap bankruptcy attorneys are everywhere. You see them advertising the lowest price on the internet. They promise success at a low price. However, you get what you pay for. Choosing the right person to represent you in a bankruptcy case can be the difference between financial freedom and long-term pain.
If there are any missteps in your case, then your financial situation could take a turn for the worse. If you are considering bankruptcy, it is probably hard to imagine things being worse than they are now, but ruining a bankruptcy can lead to even more severe consequences. Not only will you still be liable for your debts, but if you forget to disclose assets or don’t follow the bankruptcy court rules, then you might even have to forfeit your assets, pay fines or face criminal prosecution.
4 Things That Could Go Wrong If You Choose The Wrong Attorney Or File Pro Se
Here are some of the things that could go wrong when you file pro se, or you choose the wrong bankruptcy attorney:
#1 You File The Wrong Chapter
There are three different chapters or types of bankruptcy that a person can file. There are specific requirements that you have to meet to file each chapter. For example, if your income is too high, you might not be eligible to file for Chapter 7. If you owe too much money, then you might have to file Chapter 11. Bankruptcy laws are complicated. Choosing an inexperienced lawyer who doesn’t know the different chapters of bankruptcy inside and out, can lead to can lead you to file the wrong chapter. Filing the wrong chapter bankruptcy can lead to severe consequences like losing your house.
#2 You Fail To Disclose Income, Debt Or Assets
If you fail to disclose certain things in a bankruptcy, then your case could be dismissed. Even worse, you could face fines, penalties, and even prison. You sign your paperwork under penalty of perjury and have to testify under oath to the truthfulness of the information provided to the court. Leaving things out or omitting facts can lead to severe consequences, including up to 20 years in federal prison.
#3 You Don’t Take The Required Financial Literacy Courses
In both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, financial education courses are required before and after you file. The courses must be approved by the federal bankruptcy court and must be taken in the correct order and at the right times. Failing to follow these guidelines can result in your case being dismissed.
#4 The Attorney Lodges An Inadequate Defense Against A Motion To Deny Your Discharge
Sometimes a creditor will ask a bankruptcy court to deny the discharge of a debt. An attorney who is not skilled or knowledgeable may ledge a weak defense against this claim, which will result in your entire case being dismissed. Not only will you still be responsible for this debt, but for all of your other ones, as well.
Things To Look For When Selecting A Bankruptcy Attorney
Before you select the lowest-priced bankruptcy attorney, there are some things you should think seriously about to help you decide whether or not they are the right attorney for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing a bankruptcy attorney.
Are They A Bankruptcy Expert?
Although any attorney can technically handle a bankruptcy, you should not go with just anyone. Choose a Los Angeles bankruptcy lawyer who has substantial expertise in bankruptcy. Ask the attorney what percentage of their practice is spent on bankruptcy. You might also ask how many bankruptcy cases they have filed.
Is it a Bankruptcy Mill?
Although bankruptcy mills typically only practice bankruptcy, you want to avoid these practices like the plague. A bankruptcy mill is exactly what it sounds like. A mill is a practice that files one case right after another. These types of firms are focused on quantity over quality. The lawyers rarely have their clients’ specific needs in mind when handling the case. Instead, they are focused on how quickly they can get through your case and onto the next one.
Such firms are notorious for poor legal work and unhappy clients. They tend to have poor ethical standards which raises the suspicions of trustees and judges. When judges or trustees are suspicious, it tends to result in more scrutiny of your case. More examination means more time and more costs.
How can you tell if a firm is a bankruptcy mill?
- One lawyer handling more than 30 bankruptcy cases at a time
- Quick, superficial initial consultations
- Heavy reliable on secretaries, paralegals, and other support staff
- Attorneys don’t return your calls or answer emails
Avoid bankruptcy mills like the plague — no matter how low the cost. It is not worth the hassle.
Do They Stay Up to date on Bankruptcy Law Changes?
In 2005, bankruptcy laws changed drastically. During this year, Congress enacted what is known as the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. The legislation was developed to prevent people from abusing the system.
This law came with quite a few critical changes. Some of the changes included restrictions on filing chapter 7 bankruptcy as well as a requirement that debtors take financial education courses. Although the law was enacted many years ago, some attorneys are still not up-to-date on it — especially ones who are not experienced in bankruptcy law. So, make sure that the attorney you choose fully understands these changes. One way to ensure that they do is to select an experienced bankruptcy attorney in Los Angeles.
Do You Feel Comfortable Working With Them?
Although you might think that it doesn’t matter if you like your bankruptcy attorney, the client-attorney relationship is key to a successful bankruptcy case. Choosing an attorney who is cheap but who you don’t like is a recipe for disaster. If you are like most debtors who are looking at filing bankruptcy, you may already be experiencing guilt and shame about filing bankruptcy as there is discrimination in our culture towards those who file. An attorney should not belittle you or make you feel even worse about your situation. They should be professional and understanding. Having an attorney that you feel comfortable with will make the process go much more smoothly.