Six Questions to Ask a Bankruptcy Lawyer - Frank J. LaPerch, PC

Six Important Questions You Should Ask a Bankruptcy Attorney

Are you drowning in debt and unsure what to do next? Are you overwhelmed with financial issues and fed up with creditor harassment? The time might be right to declare bankruptcy. People in financial straits are also at their most vulnerable and at a greater risk for making a wrong decision or entering into certain debt negotiation agreements that do not serve their best interests.

What does this risk mean for your financial future? Your first goal must be to find an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who will protect your well-being. This means he or she carefully considers if bankruptcy is best for your specific situation and if so, helps you with the process from beginning to end. Bankruptcy includes multiple steps and you need an attorney to help you navigate the process.

Also, just because you contact a bankruptcy lawyer doesn’t mean you will file a bankruptcy or that it is the best option. An experienced bankruptcy attorney will first and foremost decide if it is in your best interests.

How can you determine if a bankruptcy attorney is the right choice for you? Asking a potential bankruptcy attorney these six questions can help you determine whether or not a particular legal team is your best choice:

Should I File for Bankruptcy?

This is the single most important question you should ask a bankruptcy attorney. If the attorney automatically says yes without asking for specific details about your situation, you are better off continuing your search. A qualified bankruptcy attorney can explain what bankruptcy is and how it can alleviate your specific financial woes. He or she should also provide details and recommendations concerning different types of bankruptcy.

What are the Pros and Cons of Bankruptcy?

Benefits of bankruptcy vary from person to person. A lawyer should provide specific benefits of bankruptcy that relate to your situation and should also review the negative aspects of the process. Bankruptcy might be the right choice for you, but there could still be a downside. For most, any downside is outweighed by the fresh start bankruptcy provides, but in some cases there are consequences that need to be considered. For instance, some people are unable to eliminate all of their debt through bankruptcy. Filing might also jeopardize your chances for certain types of employment. Your bankruptcy attorney must understand your specific situation and review all aspects of bankruptcy before you proceed. If you feel you are being rushed into filing or you do not understand how filing will affect the various aspects of your life, you need to slow down and consider speaking to another attorney.

What Portion of the Firm’s Focus is on Bankruptcy?

Most law firms specialize in certain areas. A lawyer might have a general understanding of various fields, but spend the majority of time working on a certain type of case. For instance, a divorce lawyer likely has some understanding of bankruptcy, particularly because divorce sometimes forces a client into bankruptcy, but divorce and family law is actually his or her specialty. Unless you have an existing relationship with an attorney, search for someone specializing in bankruptcy law on a full-time basis and with several years of experience in the field.

What is the First Step in the Bankruptcy Process?

Filing for bankruptcy takes time. The process can be confusing, but if you work with an experienced attorney, things go much smoother. Ask your lawyer what steps you need to take to begin the bankruptcy process and ask for a breakdown of the process from beginning to end. This detailed discussion will enable you to prepare for each step of the process.

What is the Cost of Bankruptcy?

In addition to the cost of filing for bankruptcy, you must also have a clear understanding of your attorney’s rates. Ask for a complete listing of rates and what the initial retainer covers. In most cases, it will not cover certain proceedings that may arise, such as an adversary proceeding filed by an objecting creditor. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can review your case and be able to advise whether any complications are likely. You will want to know what such a complication may be and what it will cost if it arises.

What is Our Relationship?

Make sure you understand your attorney’s communication method and be sure this method makes you feel comfortable. Also ensure your attorney will be available at the most important times in the bankruptcy process. If you are the type of person who prefers to communicate via phone, but your lawyer prefers email, things can get dicey. Both methods are acceptable, but you need to work with someone on the same page as you. It is also important your attorney accompany you in court and be available when questions arise.

Bankruptcy is a complicated process and can spin out of control if you do not understand how to proceed. If you live in the Rockland, Westchester or Orange County area and have questions about bankruptcy, or you are ready to speak with an attorney about filing, contact the law office of Frank J. LaPerch.

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