Bankruptcy is legal proceeding for businesses and consumers. A business that is overwhelmed by debt can either choose to dissolve and liquidate its assets to pay off creditors or discharge certain debts in a Chapter 7 or to continue operating under either a Chapter 13 or 11, depending on if it is a corporation or not, while drastically reducing the amounts owed to creditors.
For consumers, a bankruptcy is a way of getting a “fresh start” by discharging unsecured debt such as credit cards and most medical bills, or of repaying creditors over period and saving their homes from foreclosure if facing that possibility.
A bankruptcy is a drastic step that will affect your credit and your assets in some cases so finding the best bankruptcy attorneys to represent you throughout the process is essential to your financial future. Although there are the usual ways to finding reputable bankruptcy attorneys such as referrals from friends and relatives, there are other resources you can easily use to find the right bankruptcy attorneys for you.
Bankruptcies are filed and court proceedings are held in bankruptcy courts that are separate from the state and federal district courts. Go the clerk’s office and request a list of bankruptcy attorneys or ask for a referral to one or more law firms that regularly practice there.
Another excellent source is the bankruptcy trustee in your area. The clerk’s office at the bankruptcy court will give you the trustee’s phone number or you can find it in the government section of your phone book. A secretary will gladly provide you with a number of prominent bankruptcy attorneys for you to contact.
Many attorneys belong to professional associations that focus on their particular area of law. Criminal attorneys have the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys or local branches in their area; personal injury lawyers may belong to the American Trial Lawyers Association. Similar organizations exist for criminal prosecutors, trusts and estates attorneys, and others.
Most of the top bankruptcy attorneys belong to the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA). The organization has a website that provides names, phone numbers, addresses and websites of bankruptcy attorneys in your area. The NACB also offers tips to consumers to determine whether bankruptcy is your best option, although you should consult with an attorney in person to explore alternatives and to see if you qualify to file for a Chapter 7 or if a Chapter 13 is more appropriate. Other associations are the American Bankruptcy Institute that has directories of bankruptcy professionals and your own state or large city organizations that exclusively consist of bankruptcy attorneys in your area.
Financial Professionals and Consultants
If you have a CPA who files your taxes and manages your business affairs or a financial consultant who advises you on investments or other money matters, he or she will typically know of the better bankruptcy attorneys or law firms. A CPA will have knowledge of the bankruptcy laws and may be able to advise you regarding other possible options, but you will need a bankruptcy attorney to give you more in-depth advice on whether a bankruptcy will help you with your financial difficulties.