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Highly Experienced Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Lawyers
Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyers report hearing many of the same questions from their clients. Some people considering bankruptcy want to find the best bankruptcy lawyer and others just want a cheap bankruptcy lawyer. If so, you are not alone. Many people in Pittsburgh with difficult financial situations know that they need a bankruptcy lawyer to get through the process and just want to pay as little as possible. After all, the reason for filing the bankruptcy case is that you are strapped for cash. The good news is that you don’t need to settle for a “cheap bankruptcy lawyer” in order to get through a simple chapter 7 bankruptcy case in Pittsburgh. Most chapter 7 cases can be completed for a very reasonable legal fee that may be infinitesimal in comparison to the amount of debt you may be able to discharge. You may even be able to pay that fee in separate payments before filing your case. When discussing the cost of a bankruptcy in Pittsburgh with your bankruptcy lawyer, be sure to have a complete understanding of all costs. A legal fee compensates your bankruptcy lawyer for representing you in a bankruptcy case. The bankruptcy court imposes its own filing fee in each case (presently, that fee is $305 in chapter 13 cases and $335 in chapter 7 cases). Additionally, there are small costs for pre-petition credit counseling and post-petition debtor education. Those courses are conducted by approved credit counseling agencies and vary from provider to provider (but generally range from $10 to $35).
Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Lawyer | Finding the Best Attorney for Your Case
Your Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney will explain all of your options to you before you ever file a voluntary petition under any chapter of the United States Bankruptcy Code. Finding an experienced bankruptcy lawyer is important in even the most simple bankruptcy cases.
A debtor in a bankruptcy case should file a completed bankruptcy petition on the day of filing. The “petition completed” includes bankruptcy schedules A through J and a statement of financial affairs. If you are filing a bankruptcy case you must properly list all of your real property on Schedule A. Your personal property, described in thirty-five (35) unique types, must be fully listed on your Schedule B. You must properly claim your exemptions and the legal basis for each on Schedule C. If any of your creditors have a lien on any of your property (e.g., a mortgage, car loan or judgment lien), you must describe that lien on your Schedule D. Certain creditors are given priority treatment under section 507 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. You must detail those claims on your Schedule E. Your general unsecured creditors (e.g., credit cards and medical debt) must be listed on your Schedule F. If any other parties are responsible with you on your debt, they should appear on your Schedule H. Bankruptcy Schedule I and Schedule J record your income and expenses, respectively. You may also need to satisfy the Means Test if you intend to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.
Filing a Bankruptcy Case in Pittsburgh Without a Lawyer
Although false economy, many people ask the question: Can I file bankruptcy without an attorney? A person can represent herself in a bankruptcy case. However, a simple case still presents difficult questions which most people are not able to answer. The United States Bankruptcy Code, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure as well as the Local Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania put in place strict deadlines to complete certain tasks and file particular documents. The consequences for missing such deadlines can result in the dismissal of a bankruptcy case.
Finding a Good Bankruptcy Lawyer in Pittsburgh
Finding an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in Pittsburgh is a simple matter. You could turn to a lawyer referral service but most people find it helpful to talk directly to a lawyer who can answer their questions on the telephone without charge and provide them with a free initial consultation . Talk to a lawyer, right now!
Bankruptcy Lawyer Representing You at a Meeting of Creditors
The meeting of creditors is scheduled promptly following the filing of the bankruptcy case. The United States Trustee will appoint a trustee to inquire into your bankruptcy filing. That trustee will ask questions of you at the meeting of creditors. Your bankruptcy attorney will be present and will guide you through the hearing. Creditors are invited to appear at the first meeting of creditors under section 341 but most do not.
Prepetition Credit Counseling and Post-Petition Debtor Education and Financial Management Courses Through an Approved Provider
The 2005 amendments to the United States Bankruptcy Code imposed new duties upon individual, consumer debtors in voluntary bankruptcy cases. All individual consumer debtors must undergo a course in pre-petition credit counseling before filing a bankruptcy case. In certain limited circumstances, a debtor may be able to submit a certificate of exigent circumstances explaining the justification for the debtor’s failure to complete a course in pre-petition credit counseling prior to filing the bankruptcy case. The certificate of exigent circumstances does not excuse the debtor from compliance and a debtor may, in some cases, be permitted to complete the course and file a certificate after commencing a bankruptcy case.
As an additional requirement for discharge, debtors must complete a course in post-petition, debtor education in order to be eligible for a discharge. Debtors must also file a certification of completion of the second course within 60 days of the first date set for the meeting of creditors. Debtors must conscientiously calendar that date and be aware that the date does not automatically adjust when a meeting of creditors is rescheduled or continued.
The costs of the prepetition credit counseling course and post petition debtor education may be included in the overall cost of your bankruptcy case. This is an important matter that debtors should discuss with their bankruptcy attorneys. Your Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyer should provide you with guidance for completing the required courses in order to complete your bankruptcy case and get a fresh start.
After the Meeting of Creditors
In a case under Chapter 7, the trustee will liquidate the non-exempt assets. In many cases, there is nothing to liquidate. The trustee can also avoid certain transfers bring property back into the debtor’s bankruptcy estate. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, the trustee will oversee the debtor’s plan, vet it for feasibility and compliance with the bankruptcy code and accept plan payments. The debtor must complete debtor education after the meeting of creditors.
A debtor can, but is not required to, reaffirm certain obligations. For instance, a debtor might execute a reaffirmation agreement with the creditor holding a vehicle loan to keep that vehicle. A reaffirmation agreement that is approved by a Bankruptcy Court has the effect of making the bankruptcy debtor responsible for paying the debt, even after receiving a bankruptcy discharge. Discuss the merits of reaffirmation agreements with your lawyer.
Discharge of Debt in Bankruptcy
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, a debtor usually receives a discharge four to six months after filing a bankruptcy case. In a Chapter 13, that discharge occurs at the conclusion of the case (typically 36 to 60 months after the case begins). In most cases, unsecured debt like credit cards and medical debt, are discharged, giving the debtor a fresh start. There are certain exceptions to discharge. Usually, student loan obligations are not discharged (unless they pose an undue hardship). Domestic support obligations, many kinds of taxes (although not all) and some kinds of criminal restitution cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy case. To find out whether all of your debts can be discharged in bankruptcy, contact a Pittsburgh bankruptcy attorney immediately.
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