Bankruptcy has a negative connotation to it. Many people view it as a very scary experience, which will affect their lives forever. Although bankruptcy is not as bad as it sounds and there are some benefits to filing for bankruptcy, it’s admittedly an overwhelming endeavor. The debtor will be put in a sensitive position and will have to make difficult financial decisions on the spot.
Aside from the emotional dread that bankruptcy entails, the overwhelmingness of the process is further aggravated by complex and complicated legal provisions and procedural rules. Regardless of what type of bankruptcy you file, you will be faced with laws and rules that you may not be familiar with.
All this is why it’s highly beneficial to have the guidance and support of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. A legal professional who has experience and education in the field knows what he or she is doing and can help you come out of bankruptcy prepared to move forward with your life with a clean financial slate.
If you’re about to hire a lawyer for your bankruptcy case, here are some questions you need to ask to find the right attorney for you.
- How far does your bankruptcy law experience go? Have you handled any cases similar to mine?
The first and foremost thing you should look for in a lawyer is experience. Although they have the education to navigate bankruptcy cases, different situations call for different strategies. In the same way, your case may have unique circumstances that require a different approach.
A lawyer who has long years of experience handling bankruptcy cases, including one that’s similar to yours, increases your success rate. So ask your lawyer about their experience in bankruptcy law and do your research to determine how well-versed they are in it.
- What type of bankruptcy case is right for me?
When it comes to personal bankruptcy, you can file under two statutes: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your assets will be liquidated to discharge most, if not all, of your debts. On the other hand, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy binds you to a payment plan and will require you to settle your debts in arrears.
Just because these options are available to you doesn’t mean that you should just file what you please. These different bankruptcy cases can entail different things and affect your finances and obligations in different ways. For example, Chapter 7 is a speedy type of bankruptcy case that can offer immediate relief, but those with a sufficient income will not be eligible for it. On the other hand, Chapter 13 is more ideal for debtors who have assets they want to protect from liquidation.
It’s important to determine your priorities and goals when it comes to your finances and find out which option is better for you and which one you are qualified for. After telling your potential bankruptcy lawyer about your financial situation, ask them which type of bankruptcy will be more suited for you.
- How will the process take place? Will you appear in court on my behalf or accompany me during the proceedings?
The bankruptcy process can be gruesome and complicated. And of course, it’s also overwhelming on your end, especially when it’s time to appear in court. Having your lawyer right by your side and keeping you updated throughout the whole process can offer a sense of comfort and confidence in your case.
While most lawyers do appear in court with their clients, some lawyers can sit out and ask their associates to accompany you. If you’re not comfortable with setups like this, speak to your lawyer about it and ask if they will be willing to accompany you in court.
- How much will the process cost?
Filing for bankruptcy can come with some fees, more so if you choose to hire a lawyer. But even then, hiring an attorney is a necessary expense to help you achieve the best results. You might end up losing more without the expert help of a lawyer.
Before taking the next step of filing for bankruptcy, ask your lawyer how much the process will cost you. They should be more than willing to provide you with a clear estimate of expenses, including those for attorney’s fees. Ask your lawyer to crunch the numbers and estimate the costs for:
- Attorney’s fees
- Court and administration expenses
- Filing fees
- Other additional charges.
- Aside from bankruptcy, do I have other alternatives?
For most instances of financial struggle, bankruptcy may not be your only option. You may be able to rise from your financial hardships through other means without immediately resorting to bankruptcy. A good lawyer will be willing to give you advice on other alternatives you may have. They should not and would not force you to file for bankruptcy if there are other routes you can take.
Make an Informed Decision
Bankruptcy is an overwhelming process, but it’s one that can be easily navigated with the help of a good lawyer. While there are many lawyers out there who specialize in bankruptcy, not all of them may be able to help you in the ways you need and prefer. Before engaging the help of any attorney, ask them these questions to determine if they are suited for you and your needs.