Choosing a bankruptcy attorney can be the most important decision for someone facing bankruptcy. Before hiring a legal counsel, take the time to find out what you’re getting. Here are questions you should ask during an interview with a prospective attorney.
How can one benefit from filing bankruptcy?
A prospective attorney should be able to explain the benefits of bankruptcy in simple, everyday terms. The major benefit to filing for bankruptcy is that it affords those who file the opportunity to repay a portion of their debts without collectors breathing down their neck. As soon as an individual or business files for bankruptcy, a court order is instilled that prohibits debt collectors from trying to recoup their money on their own for as long as the bankruptcy process lasts. He or she should also be able to tell you about different types of bankruptcy, such as Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 and how each one would affect you.
How many bankruptcy cases have you successfully handled?
If your lawyer has taken on only a handful of cases in his or her career then you need to know that. Filing bankruptcy is not just filling out some paperwork, and filing some forms, and going to court once or twice. While it sometimes can appear that there’s not too much to filing a bankruptcy case, that’s because a competent, knowledgeable, experienced bankruptcy attorney knows what to do and makes it look easy. Likewise, if your legal counsel claims to have helped thousands of people in a career spanning many decades, that is useful information to have as well. An attorney who handles only bankruptcy cases will often have a better knowledge of current laws than one who handles a lot of different types of cases.
What do your attorney fees cover?
In most cases, the fees you pay will cover all of the services you will need to obtain a final discharge. Although most attorneys now offer free consultations for the first meeting, the biggest expense for any bankruptcy is usually the attorney’s fees. These also vary because of state and jurisdiction, but can range anywhere from a $1,000 to $3,000. Many bankruptcy attorneys charge a flat fee for filing a bankruptcy petition, although a few still bill at an hourly rate. If your attorney charges extra fees for special services, make sure you know about them and whether they apply to your case before you sign a agreement The cost varies depending on an attorney’s expertise and staff. Many firms that specialize in bankruptcy law actually charge a lower fee because they operate a volume business where one attorney may supervise multiple paralegals. They can charge a cheaper rate because they are using a paralegal to perform some of the bankruptcy work, rather than an attorney for the whole bankruptcy.
Filing for bankruptcy on your own can end up costing you dearly, especially if you make the wrong decisions or file incorrectly and lose assets you could have protected. Filing bankruptcy without an attorney is a lot like rebuilding your car’s transmission. Sure, it might work out if you kind-of know what you are doing. Or it could lead to way more expensive problems than if you just hired a professional to do it right from the start. Find a bankruptcy attorney near you today!