7 Things to Keep in Mind Before Hiring a Bankruptcy Lawyer
There are times people will find themselves in a severe financial crisis. In situations like this, a series of alternatives might not present a feasible solution. Yet, you might not protect yourself and your asset from creditors. This makes filing for bankruptcy the only viable option.
When you consider filing for bankruptcy, hire a skilled and competent bankruptcy attorney. Such a case is essential as the lawyer’s experience can affect your overall experience with the process. This article presents seven necessary things one needs to know before hiring a bankruptcy lawyer.
To have a smooth and seamless overall bankruptcy experience, the competency of the lawyer matters. Here are seven things to have in mind:
Table of Contents
1. The Attorney Must be Experienced
When it comes to filing for bankruptcy, any attorney will typically be able to represent you. However, it is an excellent choice to go with a lawyer with ample experience handling bankruptcy cases. This involves knowing what percentage of the lawyer’s practice is related to bankruptcy and the number of bankruptcy cases that have been filed successfully.
Also, one needs to know the specific bankruptcy type the lawyer has handled. This is because one will be better off choosing an attorney with a particular experience in the bankruptcy type you intend to file, be it Chapter 7, 11, or 13.
2. Consider What You can afford.
One of the significant factors for people in choosing an attorney is the fee. You are already financially down, so it makes sense to consider a lawyer whose cost is reasonable and within your limit. The good news is that many bankruptcies offer good services at affordable fees. However, your determinant factor in hiring an attorney should not be centered on fees alone. This is essential, as you want an attorney that will give your case the utmost attention it needs.
You will be expected to pay a flat fee with most bankruptcy attorneys that will typically include varieties of legal services. One needs to understand the services covered by the cost that is not part of the payment agreement.
3. Prepare for Challenges
Filing for bankruptcy is not a walk in the park, even if you work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. However, the good news is that most lawyers should anticipate challenges that might arise on the journey.
Someone filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, for instance, might have issues with retaining some assets like the residence if there is a foreclosure. Also, if there is a lawsuit against you by the creditor, there could be challenges. As a result, bankruptcy might not protect you from some cases, which means you need to know how to defend yourself.
Other challenges could revolve around qualification for a specific type of bankruptcy or loss of assets.
4. You Can’t Negotiate on Professionalism.
Not only should your attorney be experienced, but you also want someone professional with good work ethics. As a result, it is good to consult a couple of professional bodies for background checks. A reliable bankruptcy attorney should be a professional body member like the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.
Check the organization above and shortlist a couple of attorneys in your vicinity. Consult the bar association of your state and access their certification since many states will require specific bankruptcy practice certification.
For a bankruptcy attorney to be certified, they must have practiced for a minimum required number of years, and half of their cases should be on bankruptcy. If your case gets complicated, necessary credentials and associated membership assure that the attorney has the skill to bail you out.
5. There are Different Branch to Qualify for
There are a couple of bankruptcy types, and you want to know which branch you qualify for. Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy are two primary types with various qualification criteria even though one might not be eligible for both. Your bankruptcy lawyer can guide you on which one you qualify, alongside the difference between both types.
To use chapter 7 bankruptcy, one needs to pass a means test, allowing for debt forgiveness. On the other hand, one needs a steady income stream for chapter 13, while it requires repayment. These and many more are the difference, and your attorney should be able to guide you to the best one to consider using.
6. Reliable Assistance with Credit Report
There will be some effect on your credit report after a couple of months of filing for bankruptcy. You might have your accounts tagged as late, delinquents, or in the collection in some cases. A reasonable bankruptcy attorney should be able to recommend ways to get around this issue to prevent it from hurting your credit report when you start building it again.
7. Understand the Pros and Cons of Filing for Bankruptcy
One of the most crucial factors to check with your attorney is providing a clear, detailed, and realistic picture and implication of filing for bankruptcy. Be wary of attorneys who give a short and general answer or with a sole focus on having you as a client.
Your attorney should be able to tell you which debts will not be discharged with the case. The implication of both types of bankruptcy and the short and long-term effect and consequences of filing for bankruptcy.
Hiring a bankruptcy lawyer is an essential financial decision that should save you stress during the process and ease your financial turmoil. Make sure to consider these crucial factors before settling for a bankruptcy attorney for your case.