I believe my bankruptcy attorney did a horrible job representing me. I told him I wanted to keep my house, which I eventually lost, so he put me in a Chapter 7. Then when the Trustee moved to sell my house, my bankruptcy attorney did not even bother to defend against that action. Was this proper representation or do I have a claim?
Right or wrong, successful malpractice claims against bankruptcy attorneys are rare. What happens to a debtor inside and outside of bankruptcy is nearly entirely dictated by the debtor's circumstances. So, what an attorney does or does not do rarely changes the outcome. The problem many client's have is that the attorney fails to fully explain something, which may be an ethical violation and can be raised with the state bar association, but rarely, does that situation rise to malpractice.
For example, if a debtor is behind on her house payments and cannot afford the mortgage payment, the debtor will lose the house regardless of what the attorney does or does not do.
As for defending against the trustees action, I would suggest reviewing your fee agreement with the attorney. In chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is fairly standard practice that attorneys limit their representation and do not prosecute or defend actions that arise after the bankruptcy filing without additional fees being paid. Also, it is entirely possible that there was no viable defense against the trustees action (can't really say one way or the other).
You should probably sit down with a competent bankruptcy attorney. and yes you will probably need to pay some money, to have the attorney audit your bankruptcy to determine if anything is really at issue.
Maybe not what you want hear, but part of bankruptcy is moving on.
I would suggest going to a mal practice attorney. It is impossible to give you an answer without all the facts in detail.
Jonathan Leventhal, Esq.
Leventhal Law Group, P.C.
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The link below contains general information that may assist you in evaluating the circumstance in which a chapter 7 trustee takes and sells a home to pay unsecured creditors from the debtor's equity.
Not legal advice, just general information. I practice in Vermont, not California. Consult California counsel to obtain legal advice.
In my opinion your BK attorney should have told you to have an appraisal (costs $$$) or at least a CMA (free) BEFORE you filed your petition. Also, he should have given you a list of exemptions that are available to protect your assets. IF your house's equity is in excess of the available exemption AND he told you that you ran the risk of the trustee "taking & selling" your house. If he did all three, there probably is no malpractice.
Bankruptcy is a legal way for people or businesses who are no longer capable of paying back their bills to clear these debts and start over.