There are many challenges in life that we all work through, but sometimes it is difficult to get out of a tough financial situation. Fortunately, the Bankruptcy Code provides a way to start anew with a clean slate by filing for bankruptcy. There were 21,655 cases of business bankruptcy filed in the United States in 2020. Many individuals had to file for bankruptcy as well due to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the economy.
When filing for bankruptcy, it is important to have an experienced bankruptcy lawyer on your side, and you can identify one if you ask the right questions. It is important to ensure that your lawyer understands your particular situation and can advise a course of action that is best for your life and future goals.
Here are a few important questions that can help you find a good bankruptcy attorney:
1. Are there any realistic alternatives to bankruptcy? If not, which bankruptcy Chapter is the right choice for me?
This is one question that will allow the lawyer to display his expertise and experience in the field. It will also help you assess if he is leaning toward a solution without first understanding the problem. A good bankruptcy lawyer will first explain any alternatives available to you, but will not advise you to continue to take on debt or work around the issue if bankruptcy is the only realistic way for you to rectify the financial situation.
While Chapter 7 bankruptcy is ideal for those who have no hope of repaying acquired debt, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is better for those who have income and can manage their debt if they are allowed a more flexible payment plan structure. Your lawyer should clearly state the advantages and limitations of each alternative for you, and will be able to tell you which makes the most realistic sense for your situation.
2. How much experience do you have?
Your lawyer may have experience of more than 30 years but could have filed only a few bankruptcy cases. That is why it is crucial to ask him if he understands the complexity of these cases. Bankruptcy laws are subject to change. So, your lawyer should have sufficient experience in the field and be aware of all changes in both federal and state bankruptcy laws.
3. Who will attend court with me?
Appearing in court during bankruptcy can be stressful at times. If you have a good lawyer by your side guiding you during these appearances, it will certainly help. So, you should straightforwardly ask your lawyer if he or she is going to accompany you to court. The same lawyer should be present throughout your case, and not a paralegal or associate, as your attorney will be more familiar with you and your case.
5. How much is your fee and what all does it cover?
The cost of hiring a lawyer depends on where you live, and how experienced he or she is, and other factors. The fee should normally include the cost of filing your case in court. He or she should inform you about the federal filing fees, as well as describe any additional costs you’ll be responsible for. You should also be made aware of any additional fee if any unforeseen situations arise.
The United States government has enacted Federal Bankruptcy laws with the fundamental goal of giving debtors an opportunity for a financial "fresh start" from burdensome debts. That is why identifying and hiring a good bankruptcy lawyer is an important investment as he or she will help you maximize this opportunity. You should ask tough questions and request additional information from your lawyer. It will help you feel more comfortable in communicating your situation openly and directly, and ultimately help lead to the best possible result.