If you’re struggling with a heavy debt load or an income that doesn’t make ends meet every month, you aren’t alone. Many individuals like you can find debt relief and can resolve troublesome financial issues for the long term with the help of bankruptcy. The two main chapters of bankruptcy, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, offer debt relief options in the form of debt discharge in exchange for asset liquidation of non-exempt assets or as a reorganization of debts into a repayment plan. To determine if filing bankruptcy is the right choice for you, and to decide which chapter you should file under, Behm Law Group Ltd. offers expert legal guidance and comprehensive bankruptcy assistance in Redwood Falls, MN.
Bankruptcy is a highly complex and nuanced legal process that can be very difficult to navigate without the right knowledge and tools. Because of this, filing for bankruptcy with the support of an attorney is the best possible option for any filer. However, many filers have difficulty finding the money to hire a lawyer and they, sometimes, must find their own way through the filing process. In the scenario of helping to find an attorney who may agree to accept lower attorney’s fees, one of the best resources you can use is your local legal aid office.
Legal aid offices provide public, and sometimes free, legal information and support services. You can find a legal aid office/legal clinic near you through the American Legal Services Corporation. Legal aid offices are set up as a nonprofit, being largely donation- and volunteer-based programs. Participating lawyers and other legal professionals, as well as counselors and social workers, establish a system that can provide protection in some ways for those unable to completely afford legal representation, but primarily the organization operates as a resource of legal information.
If you plan to file for bankruptcy and you’re having trouble finding the money to hire an experienced bankruptcy attorney, you can turn to a local legal aid office for some direction. Because bankruptcy can be a highly nuanced and complicated process, most legal aid offices do not have attorneys who handle bankruptcy cases. However, many private attorneys may be affiliated with a legal aid office. Attorneys who are affiliated with legal aid offices may agree to accept lower fee amounts for people who seek assistance through the legal aid office. In order to possibly qualify for lower fees, you may have to undergo a screening process with the legal aid office and with an affiliated bankruptcy attorney. In order to obtain assistance with the attorney’s fees, you really must, in good faith, not have any other options. If you receive tax refunds or have a relative who can financially assist you, or have a life insurance policy or a 401(k) plan that you can borrow against, you typically will not qualify for lower bankruptcy attorneys’ fees through the legal aid office. Generally, all of the basic information you’ll need to file a bankruptcy case can be available through the legal aid office, including information about:
- Pre-bankruptcy requirements
- Documents included in your petition
- How to find and fill out all the necessary paperwork
- How to pay and/or waive bankruptcy fees
- What debts you can have discharged or reorganized
- What assets you can protect from liquidation
- Post-petition requirements
- Overall court process
Certain more unusual or complex information may also be available, but you may find it difficult to know what to ask for that will be relevant to your specific situation.
If you are able to afford legal representation, it is generally recommended that you do so. Legal aid offices cannot always give information that will be helpful in the face of changes in your case. Each bankruptcy case is unique, and certain circumstances may cause unforeseen difficulties after you file a petition. Additionally, legal aid offices cannot protect you from creditor judgments or other obstacles that may arise throughout your case, whereas such assistance is available with the help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney.