If you hire a bankruptcy attorney, usually he or she will provide legal advice and handle your case from start to finish. Below, we discuss some of the very frequent types of services you can expect from your bankruptcy lawyer.
What to Expect From Your Bankruptcy Attorney
Generally, your retainer agreement (the contract you as well as your lawyer sign) will outline the exact scope of the services your bankruptcy attorney will supply. You should expect the following of your bankruptcy attorney in addition to what’s outlined in the retainer arrangement.
Qualified Legal Advice
Your lawyer’s job will be to give you competent legal counsel. If your attorney believes that bankruptcy is in your best interest, they should advise you about:
- the type of bankruptcy you need to file
- how it is possible to use bankruptcy to attain your financial goals
- what you’ll be able to expect during the insolvency process
- what you can do to make the procedure easier, and
- whether your case has any issues or risks you need to know about.
You should expect your lawyer to answer your questions and return your calls or emails in a timely manner, in case you have any other questions during the method.
Collecting Your Records
Your bankruptcy petition is unable to be completed without specific documents, so it’s a good idea to gather your paperwork together ahead of time and bring it to your appointment—especially should you need your bankruptcy finished quickly. Here’s your list:
- two years of filed tax returns (the last two years that you filed)
- seven months of bank statements and paycheck stubs
if you’re self-employed, the past two full years of profit and loss statements (plus the year-to-date figures)
- current copies of your mortgage and vehicle loan statements
- all foreclosure-related paperwork
- a copy of your life insurance policy
- copies of your investment and retirement statements
a car valuation (such as a web-based printout from Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book)
if you’re separated or divorced, a duplicate of your marital settlement agreement
- a copy of your drivers ’ license, and
- a duplicate of your social security card.
Most lawyers will ask you to complete a lengthy bankruptcy questionnaire, as well. Get it before your meeting, if you’re able to and bring a completed copy with you.
Every Bankruptcy Attorney’s “Must Haves”
Insolvency attorneys frequently are the beneficiaries of a rough economy, but their clients, a number of whom know little about the procedure and have a short time to research it, are generally at a loss as it pertains to seeking assistance from an expert.
With creditors closing in and desperation mounting, many people foolishly select a bankruptcy attorney based on price, an advertisement or, worst of all, no criteria in any way. But picking the best man to deal with your bankruptcy can mean the difference between an eventual rebound and long-term pain.
Get What You Pay For
It is a simple and sad fact that the fee will be an integral element for most people when it comes to hiring a bankruptcy lawyer. After all, money is at the root of this specific issue. But with prices that range from $1,000 to $3,000 depending on what part of the state you live in, it is important to make sure you’re getting exactly what you need.
An Actual Bankruptcy ‘pro’
Technically, any attorney can manage a bankruptcy, but in practice, only individuals who usually handle such cases are worth using.
But customers shouldn’t use the length of an attorney’s career as an indicator of their expertise. The better question to ask would be: What percentage of the lawyer’s practice makes up insolvency and how many cases has the attorney filed?
Up To Date On 2005 Code Changes
In 2005, Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. The legislation, designed to reign in millionaires and habitual filers from gaming the system, brought widespread reform to the bankruptcy business. But the changes also make it more difficult for some debtors who meet a minimum threshold for income, which varies by state, to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In some cases, the law requires them to repay their debts through a reorganization rather than receiving outright forgiveness. Furthermore, in addition, it required those seeking bankruptcy protections to take a credit counseling class before filing.
While it is possible the changes to the bankruptcy code may have no or little effect on some filers, it’s nearly impossible for a person who is not a lawyer to tell beforehand how their case may differ due to the new laws. But perhaps more troubling is the possibility that some “experienced” bankruptcy lawyers aren’t present on the 2005 changes.
Don’t Get Run Through a Mill
One common pitfall can be falling into the hands of what attorneys call a bankruptcy factory, a company that churns and burns cases with little regard for their client’s specific needs while you should seek out the services of an experienced bankruptcy practitioner. Such companies are notorious for shoddy legal work, sad clients and raising the suspicions of trustees and judges, who worry that their customers, and mills, are more prone to try and pull a fast one on lenders by abusing the process.
The trouble is that spotting a mill can be rather hard for an individual who’s not a lawyer. But a great first step is to check with your local bar association for recommendations on attorneys who specialize in bankruptcy.
It might sound obvious, but picking an attorney who you aren’t comfortable with, even if the lawyer is well qualified and competitive on cost, is a recipe for disaster. Too often, people overlook the interpersonal factors that govern the lawyer/client relationship.
They should go elsewhere and not be shy about it if they don’t have a good feel for their relationship with the lawyer. Filing a bankruptcy is an emotional matter for most of US, plus it is important who is doing it for them and that they feel right about what they are doing.