Is Filing For Bankruptcy My Only Option What Alternatives Do I Have
While some bankruptcy cases may appear similar, no two cases are exactly the same. Each persons financial situation is unique, and the details can significantly vary.
After discussing your financial ordeal with your bankruptcy attorney, he or she should be able to give you an honest opinion as to whether filing for bankruptcy is the best route you can take.
A reputable law firm will never recommend filing for bankruptcy if it isnt right for you. Make sure to get all your facts and discuss alternative options with your attorney before deciding what to do.
About The Author
Sam Mazella is the Marketing Director of The Peterson Law Firm, the go-to practice in Arizona when facing divorce, child custody, child support and financial crisis. On his spare time, he enjoys cooking and doing camping trips with his family and friends.
Questions To Ask A Bankruptcy Attorney
The journey to finding a reputable bankruptcy attorney is often a lengthy and challenging part of the bankruptcy process. As you try to determine if bankruptcy is the right solution for you, you may wonder what you should be looking for in a bankruptcy attorney. In addition, you may wonder what you should be expecting from your consultation.
Here is a list of questions to ask a bankruptcy attorney in your consultation.
Questions To Ask A Bankruptcy Attorney At Your Consultation
If youre filing for bankruptcy, the right bankruptcy attorney can make all the difference. Attorneys are often willing to provide a free initial consultation to help you determine whether the services they offer are a good fit for your needs. Take advantage of these opportunities by asking the right questions.To get the most out of a consultation, prepare ahead of time by identifying what you need to know in order to decide whether an attorneys right for you. To aid your planning, heres a list of eight questions you should ask during an initial meeting with a bankruptcy attorney.
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How Long Have You Been Practicing Bankruptcy Law Have You Had Clients With Cases Similar To Mine
A law firm may handle bankruptcy cases, but that does not mean that they specialize in bankruptcy law. If you want the highest possible rate of success for your case, you need to work with a firm or an attorney who knows the ins and outs of bankruptcy law like its second nature.
Some clients think that asking a lawyer straight out about his or her experience could come off as rude. However, this is often the best and easiest way to find out his knowledge and competencies. Your attorney might even appreciate you for not wasting both of your time by beating around the bush.
The first time you meet with a prospective bankruptcy lawyer, ask about his or her experience in the field and maybe try to find out how many bankruptcy cases are typically on his plate in a month.
Should I File For Bankruptcy
This is the single most important question you should ask a bankruptcy attorney. If the attorney automatically says yes without asking for specific details about your situation, you are better off continuing your search. A qualified bankruptcy attorney can explain what bankruptcy is and how it can alleviate your specific financial woes. He or she should also provide details and recommendations concerning different types of bankruptcy.
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What Does A Bankruptcy Lawyer Do If You Hire A Chapter 7 Or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney Here’s What That Lawyer Should Do For You
Updated By Cara O’Neill, Attorney
Filing for bankruptcy is a great way to get out from under burdensome debt, and most people feel a tremendous sense of relief when their bankruptcy case is over. But understanding the process and filling out the bankruptcy forms can be daunting.
That’s where a bankruptcy lawyer comes in. Not only will you receive legal advice, but a bankruptcy attorney will handle the paperwork from start to finish. Below are some of the most common types of services you can expect from your bankruptcy lawyer.
Questions To Ask Your Bankruptcy Lawyer
If youre thinking about filing for bankruptcy in Ohio, you likely have a lot of questions. Bankruptcy has certain requirements and it impacts peoples lives in various ways. While discharging or reorganizing your debts can provide relief, its always good to have a clear understanding of whats involved.
An experienced bankruptcy lawyer will be an excellent resource to see if filing for bankruptcy is a good fit for your case. In addition to answering your questions, a bankruptcy lawyer can ensure you move through the process smoothly and come out of it with the clean slate youre looking for. The Ohio bankruptcy attorneys of Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA have helped many people in the Sandusky region improve their financial situations and we can help you too.
Weve compiled some of the most common bankruptcy questions weve heard over the years below, but every situation is different. To take about your specific concerns about filing for bankruptcy in Ohio, call today and set up a free, no-obligation consultation.
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What Is The Downside Of Declaring Bankruptcy
The downside may not be as bad as you think. The bankruptcy will show on your credit report for either 7 or 10 years depending on which type your file. You may not be able to get loans or credit cards. It may also be hard for you to buy a house or a car. A different question to ask is: will I be better off if I declare bankruptcy? Again, your bankruptcy lawyer can help you figure this out based on the facts in your case.
Questions To Determine Background And Experience
1. How Long Have You Been Practicing Bankruptcy Law?
- BAD ANSWER: A few months.
- GOOD ANSWER: Three to five years.
2. How Long Have You Been With This Particular Firm?
- BAD ANSWER: A few months.
- GOOD ANSWER: Three to five years.
3. What Percentage of Your Practice is Devoted to Bankruptcy Law?
- BAD ANSWER: Less than 25 percent.
- GOOD ANSWER: More than 50 percent.
4. What Percentage of Your Practice has Been Focused on Bankruptcy Since the New Laws Went Into Effect in 2005?
- BAD ANSWER: Less than 25 percent.
- GOOD ANSWER: More than 50 percent.
5. How Many Bankruptcy Cases Have You Completed Since 2005?
- BAD ANSWER: Five.
6. On Average, How Many Bankruptcy Cases Do You Handle Per Month?
- BAD ANSWER: One or two cases.
- GOOD ANSWER: Ten to twenty cases.
7. What Percentage of your Bankruptcy Clients are Debtors and What Percentage are Creditors?
- BAD ANSWER: Twenty-five percent are debtors and 75 percent are creditors.
- GOOD ANSWER: Seventy-five percent are debtors and 25 percent are creditors.
8. What Percentage of Your Bankruptcy Clients are Individuals vs. Businesses?
- BAD ANSWER: Twenty-five percent are individuals and 75 percent are businesses.
- GOOD ANSWER: Seventy-five percent are individuals and 25 percent are businesses.
9. How Many of the Bankruptcy Cases You Have Handled Were Moved for Dismissal for Abuse by the U.S. Trustees?
- BAD ANSWER: Quite a few.
- GOOD ANSWER: Only a couple.
10. What Sort of Relationship do You Have With People in the Court System?
- BAD ANSWER: No.
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Does My Spouse Have To File Bankruptcy With Me
Not necessarily. Just because a couple is legally married does not mean that they both have to file. If the debts are only in one of the spouses names, they can be the only one to file.
However, the non-filing spouse is required to provide their proof of income for the case, unless the couple is separated and living under separate households. Additionally, there are times when it may be better for both spouses to file to get the full benefits of bankruptcy and discharge of debts.
How Does This Branch Work
After learning which branch you should use, you should find out how it works.
If the lawyer recommends using Chapter 7, here are a few things you should know:
- You will receive debt forgiveness for qualifying debts
- You may risk losing some assets
- It will not stop a foreclosure
- It is faster than Chapter 13
If the lawyer recommends using Chapter 13, here are a few things you should know:
- You will have to repay most of your debts
- You will not lose your assets
- You can keep your house and stop a foreclosure
- You must notify the lawyer of all changes to your income and debts during your plan
Both chapters offer advantages to people who need relief from their debts, but one branch will likely provide more relief than the other.
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Who Will Work On My Case
A bankruptcy legal team usually includes both a lawyer and staff. Much of the work in preparing the all important schedules is routine.
What you want to avoid, however, is a business model where all the work and the analysis is done by those without a law degree. Bankruptcy is not just filling out forms. Each answer in the form has a legal consequence thats important to your case.
Ask, too, how you and the lawyer will communicate when you have questions during the process.
What Portion Of The Firms Focus Is On Bankruptcy
Most law firms specialize in certain areas. A lawyer might have a general understanding of various fields, but spend the majority of time working on a certain type of case. For instance, a divorce lawyer likely has some understanding of bankruptcy, particularly because divorce sometimes forces a client into bankruptcy, but divorce and family law is actually his or her specialty. Unless you have an existing relationship with an attorney, search for someone specializing in bankruptcy law on a full-time basis and with several years of experience in the field.
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What Kind Of Bankruptcy Do You Need To File For
There might be two possibilities here. Filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 would mean that you declare you have no liquid assets. The court would then take charge of all your fixed assets and sell them off to pay off your debts. Here, you get little control over what you get to keep and what you lose.
Another option is to file under Chapter 13. This allows you to create a plan for you to slowly pay your creditors. Depending on your profile, the lawyer can offer you some guidance on what your coming future would look like according to their judgements.
Can I Keep My Home
One of the biggest concerns for individuals filing bankruptcy is whether or not they can keep their home. Your Arizona bankruptcy lawyer should advise you on the risks associated with filing for bankruptcy while your home is in foreclosure.
If your intention is to save your home you need to file Chapter 13. This will stop the foreclosure proceedings.
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Determining The Particulars Of Your Case
29. Why or Why Not is Bankruptcy a Good Idea for me, Based on my Unique Situation?
- BAD ANSWER: You qualify, so it’s good for you.
- GOOD ANSWER: Bankruptcy may be a good idea for you if you have exhausted all your possibilities for paying off your debt on your own.
30. What Other Options are Available to me Other Than Bankruptcy?
- BAD ANSWER: In your situation, there are no other options.
- GOOD ANSWER: There are always options to bankruptcy. You may try re-evaluating your budget so as to start paying down your debts. You may try negotiating with your creditors. Or you may seek help from Consumer Credit Counseling Services.
31. After Reviewing my Case, What do you See as Some Potential Challenges that Could Arise?
- BAD ANSWER: It is impossible to tell.
- GOOD ANSWER: This varies widely from case-to-case. It may be something as simple as not being able to discharge everything you’d hoped to, or a more serious issue that threatens the bankruptcy case itself.
32. How Will Bankruptcy Hurt Me?
- BAD ANSWER: You’re getting out of debt. What could be bad about that?
- GOOD ANSWER: Bankruptcy will negatively impact your credit score. The better your credit before bankruptcy, the harder the hit you’ll take. Chapter 7 will stay on your credit report for 10 years, Chapter 13 for 7 years.
33. How Will Bankruptcy Help Me?
34. Which of my Debts Can I Expect to be Discharged Through Bankruptcy?
35. Which of my Debts Will Probably Not be Discharged Through Bankruptcy?
How Long Will Your Bankruptcy Case Take
Most people facing bankruptcy want to know how long the whole process will take and what to expect. First of all, you should know that the answer to this question is not universal, but depends on various factors, including the branch you file. For example, in the case of Chapter 7, the process will last for a maximum of half a year or one year. However, Chapter 13 requires much more time and can take up to five years.
A good bankruptcy attorney will explain all this to you and give a rough estimate of the time it will take for your bankruptcy case to be completed. When you are familiar with everything, it is easier for you to prepare and complete the whole process.
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Expect Sound Legal Advice From Your Bankruptcy Lawyer
In general, your retainer agreement will outline the services your bankruptcy attorney will provide. Your attorney’s job is also to provide you with competent advice throughout the bankruptcy process.
First, you can expect your attorney to tell you whether filing for bankruptcy would be in your best interest. If it is, you should also learn:
- whether Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or another type will help you achieve your financial goals
- what you can expect during the bankruptcy process, and
- whether your case involves any particular difficulties or risks.
Most importantly, if you have any questions, you can expect your attorney to respond to your calls or emails promptly.
Questions To Ask A Bankruptcy Attorney: Bankruptcy Attorney Checklist
If you have decided to file for bankruptcy, the next logical step is to hire a competent attorney to oversee your case. A lot of attorneys even offer a free consultation upfront so that you can decide if they are a good fit for you. We suggest taking more than one free consultation to gather the most information and find a lawyer you are comfortable with.
Knowing the right questions to ask will help you to take advantage of this opportunity to the fullest. Here are the 7 most important questions to ask a bankruptcy attorney
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Expect Your Bankruptcy Lawyer To Prepare And File Your Paperwork
Filing for bankruptcy requires you to complete a lengthy packet of forms. Almost all bankruptcy attorneys have specialized software that prepares and files your required bankruptcy paperwork with the court.
You’ll provide your attorney with all of your financial information, such as income, expense, asset, and debt information. Your lawyer will use it to prepare the official forms and then go over the completed paperwork with you to ensure accuracy.
You might have to provide additional forms or documents with the court or the trustee, too. Your attorney will make sure to do so promptly because missing a bankruptcy deadline can cause:
- delays in the process
- dismissal of your case, or
- other adverse consequences.
For these reasons, one of the responsibilities of your bankruptcy attorney is to know the local rules and filing procedures.
How Much Are The Fees
The next question to ask is about the fees. How much does it cost to file for bankruptcy? Is there a cost difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13? What options do you have for paying the expenses for your case?
Lawyers set up fee structures to use for bankruptcy cases, and these fees cover their legal services. Courts set up the structure for the filing fees. You must pay the court filing fees and the legal fees when filing for bankruptcy.
Most law firms require full payment for both fees before they file your documents with the local bankruptcy court.
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What Will Be The Cost Of The Whole Process
Another important question you want to ask before hiring a bankruptcy attorney is how much the whole process will cost you. Costs usually include filing for bankruptcy, administrative costs, and the cost of a lawyers fee. We advise you to inquire well about how much money you will need to successfully complete this whole process.
Of course, there is always a difference in the price of different lawyers. If youre hiring a young, new lawyer, you will probably not have to set aside a high amount of money as in the case of experienced attorneys who have been working in this field for years or decades. Consider all the factors that are important to you and inquire well about all the costs so that you can prepare in the best possible way.
Does The Court Take Everything I Own
No. The court does not want to take your personal stuff. Depending on what chapter you file and the value of the personal property you own, the assets will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
The majority of the time, when someone files for bankruptcy, they dont lose any personal property. However, if there are any fact-specific issues, this will be worked out with the creditor or trustee throughout the case.
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