The Bankruptcy Attorney’s Role in Bankruptcy Procedures (Part 1)

The bankruptcy attorney that you engage to represent you plays the primary role in getting your bankruptcy application approved. In order to be successful in this, he has to be very adept at negotiating certain issues with various parties. This has to be coupled with a thorough knowledge of the Bankruptcy Code and all other relevant laws and the procedure for making bankruptcy filings. In short, you need to appoint a bankruptcy attorney that is skillful, knowledgeable and who will stand for you throughout the entire procedure.

The first thing you can expect the bankruptcy attorney to do would be to obtain all relevant documents and information from you regarding your financial standing. This will include your list of assets, liabilities, income and expenditure. Once he has made his initial examination of your finances, he would meet you personally for a more detailed discussion to ascertain that he fully understands your situation. Each client is unique and hence a proficient attorney would sit down with you personally to go through all the relevant information you have presented to him.

After a proper evaluation of your case, the attorney should arrange for you to attend pre-bankruptcy counseling, a requirement under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA). As this goes on, he should review all your insurance policies to determine if you are entitled to make any claims to raise funds to pay off some of your debts. At the same time, he should determine if there is any legal technicality that may prevent your bankruptcy application from being successful.

Once he has the complete picture of your situation, the attorney would draft out a formal petition for a Chapter 13 plan that includes a proposed payment schedule. You should expect your attorney to go through the petition with you before filing it. Upon filing the petition, your attorney will serve the Notice of Bankruptcy Filing together with the Chapter 13 plan on each of your creditors.

Your attorney would assist you in organizing a meeting with all creditors about 30 days after filing your petition. This is to explain how you will repay your debts to them and address their individual concerns. Should any of your creditors file a lawsuit against you, your attorney would file a Notice of Bankruptcy to address it. Your creditors and the bankruptcy trustee have the right to file an objection against your Chapter 13 plan or a complaint to determine dischargeability. In such a case, your attorney should work out a plan to defend you against it.

In my next article I will explain what comes after the meeting with the creditors.