Guide to Finding Georgia Bankruptcy Lawyer

Guide to Finding Georgia Bankruptcy Lawyer

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Guide to Finding Georgia Bankruptcy Lawyer
With thousands of lawyers licensed to practice law in Georgia, finding a Georgia bankruptcy lawyer can be daunting.  Luckily, finding a quality Georgia bankruptcy lawyer is easy, once you are aware of your options and needs when filing for bankruptcy.  A Georgia bankruptcy lawyer can advise you on the appropriate federal bankruptcy chapter to file under and preserve your assets, if possible.
What is secured debt?
An important distinction in bankruptcy law is secured debt.  Secured debt is a debt that is owed to creditors, with collateral.  This usually means all property that can be foreclosed on or repossessed.  Secured debts are not liquidated during bankruptcy and can be kept or surrendered, based on arrangements the owner makes with the debt holder.  A Georgia bankruptcy lawyer can help you determine what to do with secured debt and which of the other debts are unsecured.
What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a trustee is appointed to liquidate unsecured assets in order to repay creditors.  Repayment is at the discretion of the trustee and the debtor has little say in the matter.  Unlike Chapter 13, there is no repayment plan and you are no guarantee to keep your property, save for a few exceptions for certain debts and secured debt property.  The credit impact of bankruptcy will last for ten years.  Any businesses or organizations that hold liens, or secured interests, may seize that property.  Most debts owed are discharged, except for child support, student loans, property and income taxes less than 3 years old, as well as financial penalties associated with law-breaking.
What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, none of the debtor’s assets are in danger of liquidation to repay creditors.  This will be because the debtor has steady income that can be used in a repayment plan that is structured by the bankruptcy court.  The Georgia bankruptcy lawyer will help you determine if you can file for Chapter 13 and comply with the provisions of the repayment agreement.  The repayment plan typically lasts 3 – 5 years.  The individual’s assets are not taken and the debtor typically has five years to repay the debts.  
What to prepare before meeting with the Georgia bankruptcy lawyer
You must collect all bills as well as well as a listing of your assets and be prepared to show them to the attorney.  You will need tax returns for the previous two years, and any other relevant personal finance documents.  The Georgia bankruptcy lawyer needs all of this information to determine your situation and the appropriate bankruptcy option.  The intention of Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the preservation of your assets, so it is important to have an accurate representation of all assets so that you may make the best case.  You need to be able to prove that you are financially solvent enough to sustain a repayment plan yet still in need of the bankruptcy option.  Failure to prove that your debt load is a true burden will not allow you to pursue bankruptcy and force you into credit counseling instead, which maintains your debts.
What happens between meeting the lawyer and filing the case?
As bankruptcy is meant to be a “last resort” for people in debt, federal law mandates that anyone seeking bankruptcy receive credit counseling after their filing.  The intent here is to avoid bankruptcy by working out a payment plan.  The case can only proceed after all other personal finance options have been exhausted.
Where to look for an attorney
Instead of searching online or in the Yellow Pages, the best practice is to consult a State Bar of Georgia directory.  This will give you the best range of choices and you are almost guaranteed that members of the State Bar of Georgia adhere to ethics codes and are up-to-date on legal matters concerning their specialty, especially as association membership is mandatory.
You may use this website to find an attorney.  To do so, use the search box on top of all pages.  You may also compare attorneys and ask free questions by clicking Find Attorneys on top of the page.
Rates, Fees & Retainers
The fees to file for bankruptcy in Georgia are currently $274 for Chapter 13 and $299 for Chapter 7.  This is in addition to lawyer fees.  Fee cans be waived or paid in installments at the discretion of the court.
Hourly rates may be accrued from using the lawyer or support staff such as paralegals.  This is a simple arrangement and you should have a general idea of the amount that will be billed.  This may not include flat legal service fees such as document preparation and filing.  It is especially important to be aware of those fees.
A retainer fee is a non-refundable advance payment by the client that covers the cost of services provided by the lawyer.  This payment is put into an account and billed whenever the lawyer performs services.  This account may need to be refilled as the case continues.  Although bankruptcy cases are not typically lengthy, retainer agreements can still be expensive, depending on the frequency by which the lawyer’s services are used.
A referral fee can be charged by some attorneys that do not take bankruptcy cases but do know another attorney at another firm with that specialty.  This does not increase the fees that the client must pay, but is merely an agreement between two attorneys to share the award.  The State Bar usually requires the approval and disclosure of this agreement to the client.  An attorney that has been referred has the best incentive to win the case and indeed some of the best lawyers only accept referrals.
Free services may be available to low-income families as well as no-cost consultations.  Payment plans can be arranged between clients and lawyers in case there is significant financial hardship for the client.
Interviewing your attorney
The following questions are important when interviewing your attorney:
What fees do I pay for retaining services?  Can I have that in writing?
What are my options?  Can I file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and preserve my assets?
Can I contact you directly if there is a problem?
Can you allow me to examine your credentials?
What is your experience with bankruptcies, specifically my circumstances?
If you cannot handle my case, can you refer me to a lawyer that can?

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