American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review

Debtor’s who wisely choose to hire a bankruptcy attorney put themselves at an advantage to pro se bankruptcy filers and their creditors.  But to enhance and maximize the leverage they will enjoy during their bankruptcy, they must understand and respect the boundaries of the attorney-client relationship.

Here’s what bankruptcy debtors need to know:

  1. The primary responsibility of the bankruptcy attorney is to make sure that that protect your assets as well as they can according to the bankruptcy law.  That’s why knowledge and experience is paramount when choosing the right bankruptcy attorney for your case. Many debtors make the mistake of believing that the bankruptcy trustee is there to protect their assets from creditors; but this is not true.  The bankruptcy trustee is primarily responsible for making sure that the creditors are paid fairly if they are paid at all. It is the bankruptcy attorney who works to protect the interests of the debtor.
  2. The primary responsibility of the bankruptcy debtor is to make sure that they are open and honest with their bankruptcy attorney. No hiding assets or failing to provide the documents that the attorney needs to properly represent the case.  Bankruptcy debtors who make the effort to provide documents in a timely manner will enable their bankruptcy attorney to do a better job on their behalf.
  3. The bankruptcy debtor is also responsible for making sure that they inform the attorney of any changes in their status.  This is especially true in Chapter 13 bankruptcy where it is likely change will occur in the three to five years of the case.  Job changes, salary changes, moves, divorce, marriage, a birth of a child or any other change which would have an impact on the bankruptcy case should be reported to the bankruptcy attorney immediately.
  4. The bankruptcy attorney is responsible for communicating to the bankruptcy court all pertinent information about any significant changes the debtor has experienced which would impact the case.  Also, the attorney is responsible for helping the debtor navigate the bankruptcy process, such as filing adversary proceedings or requesting a change in the payment amount required in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.