What Should You Do Before Hiring a Bankruptcy Attorney?
Look Into Their Experience
As you look into an attorney who specializes in debt relief, it's important to know that they have the experience to back up their claims. A good bankruptcy attorney will be professional, proud of the work they've accomplished, and not defensive when faced with your questions. It can be helpful to take a look at their online ratings as well.
Have They Handled Cases Similar to Yours?
In addition to general experience, does this attorney have experience addressing situations similar to yours? There are many reasons a client may need to file for bankruptcy. Finding an attorney that has handled cases similar to yours can help pave the way to success. Some of the most common reasons we see for filing bankruptcy are:
- Medical or credit card debt
- Fallen behind on mortgage payments
- Facing a lawsuit from a creditor
- Facing foreclosure or wage garnishment
Look Into Their Qualifications
You need to be sure that you are hiring an attorney from a trusted source. An attorney that has the right qualifications will know how to best support you throughout this process. When you file bankruptcy, you should be able to feel confident in trusting your attorney.
Research What Kind of Bankruptcy You Should File For
The two most common kinds of bankruptcy for individuals are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It's important to know how to differentiate the two, as they offer very different approaches when it comes to debt relief. Your financial situation as a whole will help determine the right bankruptcy approach for you.
Understanding Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
The goal when it comes to Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to relieve your debt and give you a clean slate. An experienced attorney can help you compile a list of your assets, even including furniture. With professional help, many clients are able to keep their homes and vehicles. However, each case is individual, and the right attorney can help you understand what to expect.
To file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kansas, there are two approaches you can take. You will either need to show that your monthly income is below the Kansas median income for your family size, or you can take a means test. It's a complex process, and it can be easy to overlook important guidelines. An experienced attorney will help you ensure the guidelines are met so you can have your best chance at this option.
Understanding Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
When it comes to Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the goal is setting up a reasonable repayment plan to eliminate or restructure debt. The right repayment agreement can potentially save you from house foreclosure and property loss. It can help you pay back your taxes, or catch up with your missed card or car payments.
If you just need some time to get back on your feet, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy might be the right call for you. Either way, the right help will be able to assist in your decision so you can make the right choice between filing for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Ask for a Consultation
A free consultation can help you find the right fit for your needs. You will be able to learn more about the debt relief options available to you, as well as get a feel for the attorney and if they will be able to provide you with what you need. Making the right choice when it comes to your attorney is very important. Having a solid base of trust and understanding can make a world of difference.
During your consultation, you will be able to provide the attorney with pertinent information they can use to guide you towards your best options. Having an attorney come alongside you during this stressful time can feel like a weight off your shoulders. You should leave a consultation feeling like this attorney is going to do their utmost to help protect your financial wellbeing.
Get Your Information Organized
As you prepare for a consultation, organization is going to be your best friend. Having all of your information organized ahead of time will ensure you get the most out of your consultation time. You will want to bring information on your income, loans, assets, and mortgage. The amount of money you owe, and any money owed to you, will also be key information.
Having this information on paper can prove helpful for your attorney. That way you can avoid any potential wifi or technology malfunctions during the consultation.
Prepare Yourself for Questions
Most people never imagine facing bankruptcy. This can bring about sensations of shame and can make answering questions about your situation embarrassing and uncomfortable. However, the more accurate information the attorney has to work with, the better.
It's important to remember you are not alone, and your attorney should be there to help you, not judge you. As you discuss your financial situation with your attorney, some clients find themselves surprised at the emotions it can bring up. Your attorney will be used to seeing emotional responses in their line of work. Remember that there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Determine How You Would Like to Be Contacted
This may seem like a small thing, but it can be useful to ask the attorney how they usually contact their clients. That way you'll know what to expect when it comes to receiving the important information they'll send you. You can discuss with the attorney whether they usually send letters, emails, or if they call. You can let them know the most effective way they can reach you.
Additional Questions You Can Ask an Attorney During Your Consultation
1. What Made You Interested in Your Profession?
Understanding why your attorney does what they do can actually help you make the right call when it comes to who you hire. An attorney working in debt relief has a lot of opportunities to genuinely help people. An attorney that is passionate about helping people and finds the job rewarding is one that will do everything in their power to help you.
2. What Can I Expect When It Comes to Fees?
Attorneys should understand the importance of offering fair and attainable payment options. You should be able to work out what is to be expected when it comes to payment and get a good general understanding of what the process should cost you as a whole.
3. Do I Have Any Alternatives You Would Recommend?
After taking a look at the big picture of your financial situation, the attorney may be able to present you with alternatives to bankruptcy you hadn't considered before. If no alternatives are available, you and the attorney can then move on to form a plan on what comes next.
If you are overwhelmed or have questions about filing for bankruptcy, reach out to our compassionate team at At Stockton and Stern, LLC today. Our law firm and clients throughout Gardner and Overland Park, KS, are family to us. We are passionate about what we do and look forward to helping you through this process.