Do you ever watch Food Network and get so inspired that you decide to cook some elaborate dish the next day – something you’ve never tried before, that has a whole bunch of steps to get through?

If you’re like a lot of people, you’ll start to cook that TV dream plate, only to find that it’s a lot harder to do in your kitchen than that smiling host made it seem on that brightly lit studio set. You may end up dropping out in the middle, and just going out and spending your money at a restaurant anyway. Or, if you do manage to see the recipe through, it may come out looking and tasting nothing like you imagined. It happens all the time.

The bottom line? There are all sorts of things that you can do, on paper – and there may even be people encouraging you to take them on all on your own. But when it gets down to it, bringing on an experienced, knowledgeable professional will really make the whole process go off a lot more easily, more quickly, and with more security – all with less confusion, and with fewer loose ends when all is said and done.

The bankruptcy process is one of those things.

In the state of Illinois, you do not, strictly speaking, need an attorney to file bankruptcy, and perform a whole host of other legal transactions. But those who do seek out the help of a licensed, experienced legal professional tend to have a more successful process, with greater levels of insight and protection.

Did you know? According to statistics brought to our attention by NOLO, filing for bankruptcy pro se (that is, without an attorney) is quite rare, and often less successful than transactions carried out with an attorney. In 2015, only 9.2% of people who filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and 8.5% of those who filed a Chapter 13 case filed on their own. Fewer than 10%, in both cases! And consider this: Per reports from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California, fewer than 2% of pro se Chapter 13 filers were able to successfully get a repayment plan approved by the court. Menahile, 60% of debtors with legal representation had their repayment plans confirmed.

So, with all that in mind, what are some of the advantages of bringing on an attorney before, during, and after filing for bankruptcy?

Experience, Connections, and Insight

The bankruptcy process can be a lengthy and complex one, involving multiple parties and a lot of paperwork. It’s a lot for any one person to handle on their own, especially without the experience, connections, and insights that an attorney and their team may bring to the table.

Bankruptcy law is complicated, no two cases are exactly the same, and even a small mistake could cause a significant disruption. A legal professional or team will bring their working knowledge of the law to your case, and can assist with matters including:

  • Helping your create schedules and complete paperwork
  • Offering guidance and insight on what you can expect at every step of the way
  • Handling negotiations and compliance issues with creditors

At the same time, most experienced attorneys will have a thorough knowledge of the court system, and will have professional relationships with clerks, judges, other attorneys, and many of the other parties that may get involved during bankruptcy. In many cases, this can help expedite the process enormously.

Representation Held to a Higher Standard

Let’s go back to the Food Network for a second. If you’ve spent a lot of time watching cable, you may have seen ads for businesses that offer to consolidate your debts or get you debt settlements at a low, low cost, without having to file for bankruptcy.

Some of these faceless businesses who offer services like these may actually be able to accomplish what they promise. But, in many cases, people have found themselves paying hefty fees to “negotiation” firms, with little to show for it. Often enough, consumers may find themselves pursuing bankruptcy later anyway.

There are a few things to keep in mind here. For one thing, retaining an attorney offers certain protections from creditors and debt collectors that a private business cannot, under the law. And remember that lawyers are held to a higher standard by the state. Attorneys have legal and ethical responsibilities for their clients, which private companies just don’t. There’s security there, from a professional and a legal standpoint.

Assistance With Bankruptcy Planning and preparation

Is bankruptcy even the right option for you? If so, do you have options to pick from – and what are the potential ramifications of your choices?

These are major, pressing questions. And a legal professional with experience in the bankruptcy field can help provide insights that can make figuring out the right path for you easier.

Before filing for bankruptcy, a qualified attorney will be able to review your case, and determine if bankruptcy is the right course of action – and possibly recommend alternatives, if it is not. From there, an attorney can assist their clients with determining which type of bankruptcy to file, determining the best strategy for protecting their assets, establishing the value of their property, selecting exemptions, and determining discharge of debts.

Helping You Make the Most of Your Fresh Start

During the bankruptcy process, your attorney should take steps to protect your assets to the full extent under the law, helping you achieve the debt relief you need – and live the life you deserve.

While many people are naturally worried about it, bankruptcy doesn’t have to be frightening. In many ways, it is a chance to hit refresh for consumers and businesses, and achieve a fresh financial start.

With that in mind, your bankruptcy attorney may be able to sit down with you and offer counseling on the most realistic and practical ways to avoid severe indebtedness in the future. From guidance on rebuilding your credit to managing any lingering issues with creditors, your attorney may be a key partner as you move forward and make the most of your new opportunities.

Interested in Learning More?

Whether you are a business owner, a wage earner, retired, or in another situation, the Gunderson Law Firm  can address your specific situation with strategic plans to help put severe indebtedness behind you, so that you can begin to enjoy life once again. Our team can get you through the bankruptcy process in a clear, sensible fashion and help relieve you of the burden of overwhelming debt. Don’t hesitate to get in touch today for your free consultation!