Bankruptcy attorneys are not uncommon in the world of U.S. law. In fact, many are taking up that career path as these cases in America are fast rising and are becoming commonplace, due to the weakening economy in the West. A bankruptcy attorney is quite specialized and deals exclusively with filings. Because these filings are increasing, it can be safely argued that there is no shortage of such attorneys.
The U.S. has one of the most unique, advanced, and complex systems in the world. Under the U.S. Constitution, individuals and business entities have the right and power to file for bankruptcy and come up with a plan to repay all of their debts to creditors. The rules provide the necessary framework wherein the debtor can deal with its liquid assets, sell them, and distribute the proceeds to its creditors.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court controls the process and has the final say over everything done in the bankruptcy process. It has a unique power called the automatic stay, wherein the debtor is granted immediate relief from pursuing creditors, and the act also automatically stops growing debts from incurring their respective interests.
The whole lifespan of a filing generally has four identifiable stages:
1) the bankruptcy filing
2) review of a recovery plan
3) approval and execution of the recovery plan, and
4) dismissal of the bankruptcy case.
There are also three kinds of filings, and each of these also have their respective bankruptcy attorneys. If, for example, you plan to file a case, you will need to know what kind of filing your case falls into, and what type of bankruptcy attorney you should hire.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy attorneys deal with large corporations and organizations. A filing debtor may commonly have a team of attorneys from one or two law firms: a primary team to take care of the overall case, and a secondary team to handle the extraneous aspects of the filing. Yet both teams of attorneys are involved in creating committees, representing the interests of the debtor, and crafting a Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization for the bankruptcy court to approve.
Chapter 13 attorneys are more geared towards bankruptcy filings for small businesses and individual wage earners. Like Chapter 11 bankruptcies, the lawyers are prepared to help the debtor file a recovery plan, get it approved by the court, and execute the plan.
Chapter 7 attorneys operate a bit differently since during a Chapter 7 filing, the debtor will have to sell all legitimate assets to pay outstanding debts. This is commonly called a liquidation proceeding, where a plan of reorganization is not filed, and all liquid, non-exempt assets are sold and the proceeds distributed to the creditors. Any remaining unsecured creditors that are left on the list do not get paid.
The most common question asked among individual petitioners who file for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 is whether or not they can proceed with the filing without a bankruptcy attorney. The answer is yes, and in that scenario, the proceeding is called a "pro se" filing. This can be done diligently in most small Chapter 7 cases, but in Chapter 13, where the debtor does not want to liquidate, it is highly recommended that the debtor employ his/her own bankruptcy attorney to expedite the case and not lose money on bad decisions. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, choosing the right attorney can help you recover your financial plans.
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