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Chicago Bankruptcy Question: What can happen if I hire the wrong bankruptcy lawyer?

Chicago Bankruptcy Question of the Day:  What can happen if I hire the wrong bankruptcy lawyer?  The short answer to this question is nothing good.  Filing for bankruptcy in the Chicago area can be complex and choosing the right bankruptcy lawyer can be difficult, but choosing the wrong bankruptcy lawyer can lead to huge problems.  This is why experience and focus on bankruptcy in Chicago should be one the biggest factors in deciding which bankruptcy attorney to hire to represent you.

The most significant risk in filing for bankruptcy protection is the loss of assets.  An inexperienced attorney may not be aware of all of the protections that the bankruptcy exemptions have to offer.  They may not ask you the right questions when consulting with you and thereby not be aware of an asset that cannot be protected.  An unethical lawyer may be aware of a non-exempt asset and still file a case, knowing that the asset will be lost, without informing the client.

Another significant risk is miscalculation of the Means Test.  The means test is used to determine whether or not a filer qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and sometimes can determine how much unsecured debt a filer will have to repay in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  An inexperienced bankruptcy attorney will not know all of the allowable exceptions to income, deductions from expenses and arguments under law that can be used to qualify a filer for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or limit the repayment amount in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

A third risk, and an extremely common situation, is one where an attorney files the case that sounds best to the client, regardless of the facts.  All too often we see Chapter 13 cases being dismissed early on because the budgets are unrealistic or unfeasible, because debts were treated improperly within the plan or because attorneys left out significant debts just to make the case appear feasible.  We also often see people who could have gotten a huge benefit from filing Chapter 13, such as the stripping of a second mortgage or cramdown of a vehicle, but who were put in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Once that Chapter 7 is discharged, most of the benefits of the Chapter 13 in these cases go away.  The only people who benefit from these cases are the lawyers, who usually get their money early on in the case. 

There is a huge variety of additional problems that can be created if you do not hire an experienced, qualified and honest Chicago bankruptcy lawyer.  This is one of the reasons that we at Ledford & Wu offer a free consultation to review all our potential clients' options before they decide whether or not to hire us.  Learn the fact and make sure you hire the right lawyer.

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