If you are filing a personal bankruptcy, you really need an attorney to appear in court with you to protect your rights and keep the creditors in line. Find a qualified bankruptcy attorney to represent you and protect your financial interests and get a confidential evaluation.
Not sure if bankruptcy is right for you?
Navigating successfully through the process can depend a lot on how open and honest you are about your financial situation when communicating with your lawyer.
If you are considering filing, then it is a good idea to hire an attorney to help you through the process. Bankruptcy lawyers specialize in this area so they know all aspects of bankruptcy law and can give you sound advice every step of the way. While it is possible to handle your own bankruptcy, a mistake can result in your case being dismissed or your bankruptcy being denied.
An attorney will help you fill out the mountains of paperwork required for filing a personal bankruptcy and will represent you throughout the entire process. This can be a great relief, especially if you are not familiar with bankruptcy law or if you already have lawsuits, garnishments, or repossession notices issued against you.
A Glimpse of the first page of the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition
Many personal bankruptcy lawyers do not charge for the initial consultation, so you are under no obligation if you decide that you are unable to work together. It is important that you trust your attorney and feel like they have your best interests in mind.
Questions to Ask about Your Personal Bankruptcy
During the first visit, most attorneys will ask you a series of questions and provide you with information about your various options. They should describe the process to you so that you know what to expect, and talk with you about any concerns that you may have. Make sure you ask:
- if bankruptcy is the best option.
- if there are alternatives that may work while having less impact on your credit score.
- what legal costs are involved and what are the terms of payment (pay-as-you-go, upfront, or at the end).
- What services will be provided. Find out what is included in the fee you are paying. What expenditures will you be responsible for in addition to legal fees? Will there be an additional charge for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy that could take 3-5 years to settle?
- How much experience the firm has with bankruptcy. The real estate lawyer that handled the sale of your home may not be the best choice when filing bankruptcy. Lawyers specialize for a reason, and you will likely get better results when using an attorney that is very familiar with bankruptcy law.
Talking with a Bankruptcy Attorney
Your lawyer can only help you if they knows all the important information. At your first appointment, the attorney will want to discuss your financial situation and get a better understanding of exactly where you stand. Once you decide who to hire, it is important that you trust them completely and provide them with all the details they need to represent you effectively.
When talking with your attorney make sure that:
- You tell them everything about your finances. Even little details that you may not think are important can cause problems if they surface unexpectedly. To represent you properly, the attorney will need to have an accurate account of ALL aspects of your financial situation. If you give them inaccurate or incorrect information, they may recommend solutions that could actually make your situation worse.
- Be honest. Answer all questions as open and honestly as possible. Bankruptcy attorneys have heard everything, so don’t let embarrassment or shame get in the way. No matter what choices or circumstances caused the need for a debt-relief program, bankruptcy can offer an opportunity for a fresh start. Get a free evaluation, fill out the form below:
What to Take to Your First Appointment:
To give an accurate assessment of your finances and make suitable recommendations, your attorney will need to see certain information and documentation. To save time and money, make sure that you gather all the necessary paperwork ahead of time and bring it to your first appointment. Your lawyer will ask for:
- Income tax returns for the past 3 or 4 years
- Income information: amount and source of income for you and your spouse, pay stubs for the last six months, invoices, or any other forms of income including retirement or pension plans, child support, alimony, or social security.
- List of ALL creditors: name, address, and amount owing for each creditor.
- List of monthly expenses: mortgage, rent, food, clothing, utilities, transportation etc.
- Statement of accounts: bank balances, retirement funds, pensions, insurance, as well as all debt statements such as credit cards, car loans, medical bills, or mortgage statements.
- List of all property: automobiles, real estate, household goods, jewelry, as well as the replacement value of each item.
- Any legal paperwork: lawsuits filed against you, garnishment of wages, repossession notices, any judgments issued against you, and collection or other legal letters.
- Statement of any child support or alimony obligations, including name and address of recipient.
- Documentation of any felony convictions.
- Documentation of any previous bankruptcy filings or participation in debt-relief programs.
- Certificate of credit counseling or financial management course: The bankruptcy code states that proof of credit counseling is required before filing bankruptcy is permitted however you don’t have to have this for your first appointment with your attorney.
- Identification: drivers licence, social security card, and/or state identification card.
- Copy of your credit report: you are entitled to one free copy a year from each of the three major credit bureaus. Just visit AnnualCreditReport.com each year to request your annual free credit reports.
Personal bankruptcy can be a complex process, but the right attorney can answer all your questions, appear in court with you, and protect your financial rights and interests. Click here to locate a qualified attorney in your area.
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