Redwood City Bankruptcy: The Role of Counsel

Except when mandated by law, Americans have a broad right to represent themselves in any legal proceeding.  But operating “in pro per” (short for the Latin in propria persona, meaning “for one’s self”) can be difficult because people do not know all the aspects of the law and can eventually hurt themselves.

Lawyers truly help because they are experts in their field. First, they begin by analyzing the financial situation and advise about options under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. The Means Test must be conducted or, in a Chapter 13, the disposable income must be calculated. In either event, the value of knowing everything allowed to include and how the trustee will view it may be invaluable. The lawyer prepares the petition, reviewing it for anomalies and assuring compliance with local standards (just because bankruptcy is a federal filing, each local jurisdiction has its own requirements and nuances). The lawyer protects the debtor’s assets utilizing the exemption schedule, first deciding which of the two schemas to employ (CCP §703 or CCP §704). The lawyer actually files the paperwork; fortunately, the court has established an electronic means of doing so, but only for lawyers. The person has to file it manually. The lawyer attends the 341(a) hearing with his client to interact with secured creditors to facilitate a reaffirmation or redemption. And retaining counsel allows the debtor to inform their creditors that they have hired a lawyer. This mandates that the creditors contact the law office instead the client (see Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act).

Lawyers answer questions and give the comfort of knowing your bankruptcy is being steered with experience and knowledge. In short, lawyers know more about bankruptcy than a regular and they have been through it all before.

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