Do I Really Need to Hire a Bankruptcy Lawyer?

Bankruptcy filings continue to rise here in Arizona. There was a drastic 69% increase in the number of filings in the past year. With so many Arizona residents filing for bankruptcy, it is not strange that the question of whether or not it is necessary to hire a bankruptcy lawyer would come up. Recently there has been an increase in online bankruptcy filing publicity, and many are local government association turning to this as a way to save themselves money. Though this may seem like a good idea, it can at times back fire and end up costing one more than they would have spent hiring a qualified lawyer. For example, Johns N. Skiba, a Glendale bankruptcy attorney with the Jackson White Law firm in Phoenix AZ, relates the following story about a person that tried to file on their own.
“One time I was down at the bankruptcy court with a client attending hearings before the trustee. There was a person meeting with the trustee right before he was to meet with my clients. The trustee noted that this person owned a parcel of land free and clear and had just recently sold his home. The trustee informed the person that he would be auctioning off the parcel of land and distributing the proceeds to his creditors. The person was shocked, and said “but I am claiming my homestead exemption in the parcel of land, so that I can keep it!” The trustee then informed him that the homestead exemption in Arizona does not apply to vacant land, and thus he would be losing the property.”
This is not an isolated case. Why then should you hire a bankruptcy lawyer? The bankruptcy process is very complex. Bankruptcy code is very complicated and lawyers spend years familiarizing themselves with it. There are some cases that are very simple and straightforward, and for such cases maybe it would be fitting to file on one’s what does a trial lawyer do own, but even then I would not advise it. There are deadlines that must be met, paperwork to file, and procedures to be upheld. If any of these things are not done properly, the case could be thrown out and the process begun again, losing valuable time and money for nothing, it is worth it to hire an Arizona bankruptcy lawyer.
As John’s story related, you may also risk losing your personal property. Here in Arizona, there are exemption laws, which means that when you file for bankruptcy, you do not have to lose everything. You are allowed to keep certain things, for instance your car, home, furniture, and many personal items up to a certain value. BUT, you have to list these items, and if you do not know which things can be exempted and how the law in your state works exactly, you are at risk to lose quite a bit.

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