Working with a bankruptcy attorney is important because it helps you get legal help, get a guide through your bankruptcy process and preparing any paperwork needed. However, there are certain legal fees you are required to pay to get these services. Alternatively, if you cannot afford the lawyer’s fees, you can:
- Represent yourself
- Negotiate for a reduced lawyer’s fees
- Find a pro bono lawyer who is willing to take your case without you paying
- Getting legal help from a free legal aid society
- Paying your attorney fees through the chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan
- Represent yourself as a prose debtor
Although it is not a must to hire a lawyer to help you when you are bankrupt, whether you will need to hire a lawyer will depend on the following factors:
a) The complexity of your case
b) The Bankruptcy type you want to file
c) Your willingness to do thorough research and dedicate your time to follow up the case on your own
Filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy
This type of bankruptcy means you have little or no income or assets to your name and also, you do not have any other matters which might complicate your bankruptcy. You can file this type of bankruptcy on your own because it is not complicated. However, after filing the case, you need to dedicate your time and research to avoid dismissal of your bankruptcy or risking your property. It is advisable to research through the internet and mostly on reliable self-help books available.
Filing difficult chapter 7 & 13 bankruptcies
Filing difficult chapter 7 and almost all chapter 13 bankruptcies, you need professional help with extensive knowledge since these cases have numerous pitfalls if you are inexperienced. Therefore, to avoid risking a lot, you need to hire a lawyer to handle your case and advise you throughout the process. Mostly, even if you cannot hire an attorney, you can agree on paying your fees through an agreed repayment plan. With this kind of a plan, you will require little or no fees upfront when filing the case. However, if you cannot afford a lawyer whatsoever, you can seek advice from an experienced attorney who can give you free consultations to help you find out about hidden dangers and pitfalls you may have in your case.
Negotiate for a reduced amount
If you have opted to hire a lawyer and you cannot afford the quoted fee, you can try negotiating for a reduced amount. Matter of fact, you can propose to the lawyer the amount of money you can afford and you are willing to offer him to see if he or she will accept. However, if you cannot agree on a fee, you can seek legal services from other attorneys who offer similar services.
Seek help from a free legal aid society
In the US, there are numerous legal clinics which offer legal services for free to low-income earners. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you can seek help from any of these societies which provide legal services free of charge. Sometimes, bankruptcy courts have information centers which help self-represented debtors by providing necessary information. If you have a case to file, you can find out with your local bankruptcy courts to know whether they have any centers to help you.
Find a pro bono attorney
Many attorneys take a number of cases without charging a fee or at a significant reduced lawyers’ fees. If you cannot afford legal fees, you can find a pro bono lawyer and he or she will assist you any way possible. You can start your search online through your state bar or talk to lawyers within your location. They are easy to find and very affordable or entirely do not charge any fee.
Chapter 13 Fee only bankruptcy plan
This plan is mostly used if you cannot afford to pay your lawyer fees upfront, you might need to get a chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer who offers a payment plan so that he or she can be able to get their legal fees from your repayment plan. Even if this plan is aimed at helping those people who cannot pay legal fees, some courts do not allow this plan, while others consider some factors before approving it. Therefore, you need to talk to your lawyer to know whether you can use this plan in your case or whether it’s legal in the jurisdiction you are in.
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Law Office of Rodney K. Okano
6069 S Fort Apache Rd #100,
Las Vegas, NV 89148, USA