Bankruptcy Lawyer: Asset Protection

Bankruptcy law can be a complex area of legal practice. It deals with the process by which individuals or businesses declare their inability to pay their debts and seek relief from some or all of their debts. A bankruptcy lawyer is a legal professional who specializes in this field and can help guide clients through the bankruptcy process.

Among their many roles, asset protection is a crucial aspect of a bankruptcy lawyer's job.

Asset Protection: An Integral Role

When an individual or a business files for bankruptcy, there are often concerns about asset protection. One of the main roles of bankruptcy attorneys is to assist their clients in understanding what assets they may keep (exempt assets) and what may be sold off (non-exempt assets) to pay off debts. This is a key part of the bankruptcy process and a significant factor in the financial future of the debtor.

Different Types of Bankruptcy Provide Different Levels of Asset Protection

Chapter 7 bankruptcy means the debtor's non-exempt assets are liquidated and the proceeds are used to pay off their debts. However, the debtor is typically allowed to keep certain exempt assets, such as some personal items, a portion of equity in their home (homestead exemption), and tools of the debtor's trade. The exact exemptions vary by state, and a knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer can provide crucial advice on this matter.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows debtors to keep their assets while developing a court-approved repayment plan to pay off their debts over a period of time. The debtor's income, rather than their assets, is used to calculate the repayment plan.

The Importance of Legal Advice in Asset Protection

The role of a bankruptcy lawyer in asset protection is multi-faceted. They assist with:

  • Understanding Exemptions: A bankruptcy lawyer can provide advice on state and federal exemptions, helping the client retain as many assets as possible during bankruptcy.
  • Pre-Bankruptcy Planning: To maximize the protection of assets, a bankruptcy lawyer can provide guidance on pre-bankruptcy planning. This can include strategies to convert non-exempt assets into exempt assets.
  • Avoiding Fraudulent Transfers: An experienced bankruptcy lawyer can prevent clients from making well-intentioned but ill-advised attempts to protect assets, such as transferring property to family members before filing bankruptcy. These actions can be deemed fraudulent by the bankruptcy court and can lead to severe penalties.
  • Representing the Client in Court: A bankruptcy attorney also represents the client during court proceedings, advocating for the client's rights and interests, and ensuring that the bankruptcy process proceeds as smoothly as possible.

Reach out to a bankruptcy attorney near you to learn more.