What can a bankruptcy attorney help me with? 19 Answers as of April 15, 2015

What are the advantages of having an attorney help with a bankruptcy instead of, say, a CPA or other financial expert?

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GARCIA & GONZALES, P.C.
GARCIA & GONZALES, P.C. | Richard N. Gonzales
It's night and day! An experienced BK lawyer can represent you in all phases of the BK filing. Non-lawyers can not appear at the Creditors' Meeting with you, nor are they permitted by law from giving you legal advice. The lawyer can show you how to keep your car, and possibly pay a reduced amount for the car. It may be possible to strip off 2nd or 3rd mortgages from your home. The lawyer can show you how taxes are handled in a BK filing (most people assume taxes are not dischargeable - this is not true). If you have judgment liens against your home, a lawyer can show you to eliminate these judgment liens against your home. These are only a few examples.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 4/15/2015
Deborah F Bowinski, Attorney & Counselor at Law | Debby Bowinski
CPAs or other financial experts are not lawyers and are not qualified or permitted to provide legal advice. Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 4/15/2015
Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
A cpa or other professional cannot appear with you in court. They also may not understand bankruptcy law.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 4/15/2015
Ryan Legal Services, Inc.
Ryan Legal Services, Inc. | Kevin Ryan
For starters a CPA or other professional non-licensed attorney cannot provide you with legal advice.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 4/15/2015
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
They are not licensed to practice law. You can't practice law without a license.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/14/2015
    Eranthe Law Firm
    Eranthe Law Firm | Cate Eranthe
    A knowledgeable local bankruptcy attorney is the only one of the listed professionals that will understand the bankruptcy law. Most attorneys won't even touch this complex area of the law. A bankruptcy case relies on the federal law, the state law, the bankruptcy court rules, the local federal district rules and the common practices in the area. A case that is well prepared will result in a discharge of all dischargeable debts and will move quickly through the process. An ill prepared case can result in a loss of your discharge, a loss of property - and at it's worst a loss of liberty (federal law = federal penalties).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    R. Steven Chambers PLLC | R. Steven Chambers PLLC
    The biggest advantage is that a bankruptcy attorney can represent you in court, before the bankruptcy trustee and in any matter pertaining to the bankruptcy. He or she also knows the bankruptcy laws, which most financial experts don't. The attorney can tell you the consequences of filing vs. not filing or the advantages of one chapter over another.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    Law Offices of Daniel J Winter
    Law Offices of Daniel J Winter | Daniel J Winter
    Only attorneys are licensed to file a bankruptcy case on your behalf. And, attorneys who practice in bankruptcy court have specialized knowledge and training. CPAs and financial experts not only aren't licensed to practice in bankruptcy court, they won't usually have enough knowledge to help you decide all of the consequences and legal requirements of bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    EDWARD P RUSSELL | EDWARD P RUSSELL
    A bankruptcy attorney is knowledgeable about the practice of bankruptcy law. He or she files bankruptcy cases, stays with clients through the bankruptcy process leading up to the discharge. This would be the only logical person who could help obtain a successful discharge for a client.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    Ronald K. Nims LLC | Ronald K. Nims
    I'm both a CPA and an attorney. Attorneys who do bankruptcy work are experts in the bankruptcy law and can advise you whether bankruptcy is appropriate for you and the options to get the best results. Attorneys appear before the court and represent you in your dealings with the court and the trustee. CPAs are needed in a consumer bankruptcy if the debtor has complex tax issues. CPAs are often necessary in business bankruptcies. ?In either case, the CPA works with the attorney. CPAs and other professionals who are not lawyers can't represent you in a bankruptcy case.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
    Because CPA can not file a bankruptcy for you because only either an attorney or yourself can file. And CPA doesn't generally know the bankruptcy code.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    A Fresh Start
    A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
    No one other than an attorney is licensed to give you advice regarding bankruptcy. This is federal law. CPAs and other financial experts are generally unfamiliar with bankruptcy laws since it would be a criminal offense for them to provide someone with advice about bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    Richard B. Jacobson & Associates, LLC | Richard B. Jacobson
    Only a lawyer admitted to practice in the federal district where you file your case can represent you in court. A CPA can certainly help in assembling the information you need, but cannot go to court for you or with you (except as a witness in a contested hearing). An experienced bankruptcy lawyer can help you avoid pitfalls in terms of seeing that your papers are accurate and complete, can advise you about satisfying liens, can help you present information in ways which do not get you into trouble (or are less likely to get you into trouble) in regard to the 15 or so classes of debt which are not dischargeable, and a lot else.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    Patrick W. Currin, Attorney at Law | Patrick Currin
    Because BK is not about accounting, it is about understanding and applying federal law to the circumstances of the case. It is why you hire a pest guy to take care of termites and not a plumber.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    Scott Goldstein | Scott Goldstein
    Neither a CPA nor other "financial expert" can help you with filing a bankruptcy case. That would be unlicensed practice of law which is a criminal offence in many jurisdictions. Only an attorney can advise you as to what the law requires and how to do the petition properly. "Petition preparers" can only act as a typing service and cannot even tell you which exemptions to apply. A CPA or financial expert can help with tax implications or help you figure out where you are financially, however. Best of luck.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding. Accountants and financial experts cannot represent you in court.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    John W. Lee, P.C.
    John W. Lee, P.C. | John W. Lee
    Many people that think they have a "simple" bankruptcy end up loosing their home, bank accounts, life insurance, future personal injury claims and tax refunds. Bankruptcy schedules and forms are signed under the penalty of perjury, so leaving off an asset could lead to criminal charges. A bankruptcy attorney, unlike the other "experts" you mentioned, will know how to clam the exemptions that protect your assets from the trustee. Also, an attorney can help you with bankruptcy planning prior to your bankruptcy. In many cases a debt could have discharged, or a debtor's bankruptcy would have gone through if they had only filed a few days earlier or later; an attorney could have helped make that decision.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    Law Office of Andrew Oostdyk
    Law Office of Andrew Oostdyk | Andrew Oostdyk
    Filing Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding conducted in Federal Court, a CPA or other financial expert cannot give you legal advice or represent you in a legal proceeding without having a valid bar license and authorized to practice in the Federal Court jurisdiction where you reside.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    Bensamochan & Poghosyan LLP | Eric Bensamochan
    CPA's cannot represent you at the 341(a) hearing, which is mandatory for every bankruptcy filed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/14/2015
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