Bankruptcy Fraud Attorney
A qualified bankruptcy fraud attorney can provide legal counsel in the event that a debtor is charged with falsifying information on a petition. No one wants assets seized to pay outstanding debts and the tendency is to hold onto as much property and disposable income as possible. Almost all fraudulent cases involve debtors who attempt to conceal assets from being liquidated to satisfy creditors. If trustees feel that a debtor has hidden finances, the penalty is imprisonment if found guilty. Proverbs 11:3 admonishes, "The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them." Chapter 7 and 13 petitioners, as well as Chapter 11 business filers, have all been found guilty of hiding funds and property from the federal government. Fraudulent practices include transferring real property and large sums of money to children or relatives, filing multiple cases in different states to avoid paying creditors, and using stolen Social Security numbers and identities to open bank accounts under assumed names. Of course, not all bankrupt individuals are fraudulent; and some desperately need the debt relief afforded by the court system to reestablish fiscal stability. But, the criminal action of a few unscrupulous consumers threatens to jeopardize the civil rights of many.
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) was legislated to prevent and penalize consumers and businesses filing fraudulent cases. Intentionally deceptive filings cost the government, taxpayers, creditors and debtors hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Because of deceptive filings, insolvency as a legal means of providing consumers debt relief, has gotten a bad reputation and caused legislators and lending institutions to feed debtors to advocate stringent bankruptcy reforms. But the severity of the reforms have forced bankruptcy fraud attorneys, debt-relief agencies, petition preparers, creditors and debtors alike to take a good hard look at alternatives to traditional asset protection efforts. In light of new reforms, individuals may have to spend more for legal fees to find bankruptcy lawyer willing to handle cases.
When shopping for a qualified attorney, consumers should consult a local referral agency or state Bar Association, browse the Internet, or ask friends, relatives and coworkers to make recommendations. Filing insolvency can be a tedious undertaking; and the new laws can be confusing. Consumers should find bankruptcy lawyer who not only specialize in personal and business bankruptcy, but whose practice has longevity. Any law school grad can hang out a shingle, but debtors need to make sure to find bankruptcy lawyer who not only has the education, but the expertise and experience to deftly handle cases and provide more than adequate representation. The debtor's financial future and integrity is at stake.
No one should attempt to file for debt protection without legal counsel, unless they have done a thorough study of the law and understand filing requirements. Information is readily available on the Internet and in the local library. Many debtors can find bankruptcy lawyer in the telephone directory who offer free initial consultations. Consulting with an attorney will give an individual more information about proceedings, legal rights, and alternatives to filing, so that they are able to make a qualified decision. Before an initial consultation, debtors should be well prepared. Consumers shouldn't walk into the lawyer's office empty-handed. Furnishing enough financial information should provide a good mental picture of the debtor's financial status, help save time and hourly legal fees, and help the attorney arrive at a reasonable estimate. Debtors should prepare strong financial statements, including assets and liabilities, a listing of creditors, federal and state income tax returns, home mortgage balances, auto loan payments, and outstanding credit card debt. Attorneys will also want to identify the top seven secured creditor accounts -- these will be the first to get paid. During the first consultation, debtors should be as honest and forthcoming as possible. Don't try to hide assets or information which may be detrimental to the case. It does debtors no good to find bankruptcy lawyer who is competent and then attempt to conceal information that might result in a charge of fraud and jeopardize the lawyer's career if discovered at a later date. The more information that consumers share, the better prepared the attorney will be before facing creditors, trustees and the judge during the actual proceeding.
In the event that a debtor is charged with filing a fraudulent claim, finding a good bankruptcy fraud attorney will be a priority. Debtors may want to consult with the lawyer who first represented them in the original proceeding. If the original bankruptcy attorney cannot take the case, they may recommend someone skilled in defending fraudulent claimants. The local legal aide office or state Bar Association may also be consulted to find bankruptcy lawyers who specialize in fraudulent claims. Working with a lawyer expected to aid in the debtor's defense requires mutual trust, commitment and confidentiality. The bankruptcy fraud attorney must feel confident that the accused debtor is innocent of charges; and the debtor must feel that the attorney is going to provide a vigorous, targeted defense. In order to dispute charges of fraud, debtors should give lawyers full disclosure of personal and business finances, paying special attention to the court's concerns. In turn, lawyers should offer realistic expectations of outcomes and prepare debtors to address any indescrepancies, questions or concerns the court may have. Compiling enough accurate and honest fiscal information will give a bankruptcy fraud attorney sufficient ammunition to build a solid case in defense of an innocent, but hopefully wrongfully accused debtor.
Bankruptcy Attorney FeesUnderstanding bankruptcy attorney fees might be one of the most intimidating features of an already difficult experience. These charges can vary from professional to professional. Since changes in the law have made many cases more complicated than they once would have been, many legal professionals are charging more for their services. With basic filing fees that run a few hundred dollars or more, it is easy to see how the charges that a client can expect to pay will quickly mount up. Obviously, the kinds of rates that a legal professional will charge will depend on what type of bankruptcy filing is being pursued. A Chapter 7 liquidation filing may be a simpler procedure than a Chapter 13 reorganization. The reason for this has to do with the extra details that will need to be handled in a more complicated case. Some states and districts may have specific bankruptcy attorney fees guidelines that limit the kinds of charges that can be accessed. Many legal professionals will try to attract new clients by advertising extremely low rates. This approach may or may not yield the best in legal advice and services for the client. Still other organizations offer pro bono help to certain individuals who qualify.
Being prepared for the cost of filing for bankruptcy is always a good idea. Most legal professionals will require an up front retainer that will be applied to later expenses. In the case of a Chapter 7 filing, the work involved is generally less detailed than in other types of cases, and therefore will require lower bankruptcy attorney fees. When a potential client is considering hiring a legal professional in this area, it is always a good idea to see a list of charges up front. It is also important to know whether or not the bankruptcy attorney fees also include the basic filing charges. Will the lawyer charge the client extra for services such as meetings with creditors? Of course, any time that insolvency cases involve a business, the rates that are charged by the legal professional will be considerably higher. The more complicated Chapter 13 reorganization cases will, of course, be more expensive for the client. However, in Chapter 13 cases, these charges can often be rolled into the eventual legal reorganization agreement and be paid over time. Clients can also expect to attend mandatory credit counseling and financial management classes and there will usually be a small charge for this instruction.
In order to pay for bankruptcy attorney fees, there may be a number of options that are available for clients. Some legal professionals advise clients to stop paying their bills and apply the money saved toward legal expenses. The thinking here is that these debts will be reevaluated and reorganized as the proceedings go forward, so making payments on the debt makes no sense. Of course, a client will want to keep utility, rent and other essential payments up to date. If a client can sell nonexempt property before filing to raise money for legal fees, this may provide needed income. Family or friends may also be able to help raise money to offset legal expenses. It might also be possible to attain a waver for filing charges that will cut down on the amount of up front money that a client will need. In most cases, retirement funds are protected from creditors. If these funds can remain untouched, this is generally a good idea. However, if there is no other alternative, taping into this money may provide the income needed to pay for bankruptcy attorney fees. The Bible talks about the importance of the Word of God. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Colossians 3:16)
Some bankruptcy courts set legal limits on the kinds of bankruptcy attorney fees that can be charged, particularly in Chapter 13 cases. There have been instances where attorneys requested fees in amounts that were later reduced by the court. A client should inquire as to whether or not there are legal guidelines that apply to the charges that pertain to their case. An attorney might wish to bill a client for the total number of hours that they expended in the client's case. The court might later look at those charges and decide that they are not justified and reduce the amount of money that a client owes the legal representative. Since the legal expenses that a client will incur in a Chapter 13 proceeding can usually be included in the reorganization of the client's debt, the amount of money that a client must come up with at the beginning of a Chapter 13 filing need not be unreasonably high.
Some individuals may be eligible for financial aide in covering their bankruptcy attorney fees. Many legal professionals are willing to do pro bono work for deserving clients. Underprivileged or disabled individual's can often find law firms that are willing to take on their case free of charge or at reduced rates. These legal professionals volunteer their time and expertise to the benefit of their clients who are in need. However, since most individuals who are pursuing bankruptcy can easily demonstrate financial need, special circumstances will apply to qualify for pro bono work. These circumstances will generally involve some kind of disability or health related issue.