Filing for bankruptcy is not usually an easy and pleasing process. It can be very overwhelming. That’s why you need a bankruptcy lawyer by your side to walk you through the process. Speaking to a bankruptcy attorney is usually the first step to financial recovery.
A reliable and trustworthy bankruptcy lawyer can also help you understand your situation better and your options. He or she will make sure that you are treated with respect and that you keep as many assets as much as you can. The lawyer can also simplify any complicated and complex legal document.
However, hiring the right bankruptcy lawyer is always a challenge. That’s because there are many in the market, and some of them promise what they cannot deliver. If you face financial difficulties and look for a bankruptcy lawyer to hire, here is an ultimate guide to help you choose the right one.
1. Understand the different types of bankruptcy
There are generally two significant forms of bankruptcy, and you must understand them in order to determine which one is appropriate for your situation. They include Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common type of bankruptcy. It is also referred to as “straight bankruptcy.” It is a liquidation form of bankruptcy that will discharge almost all your debts. People who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can keep most of their assets. After filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, collections against the debtor will stop, and a meeting with the creditors is scheduled. Once the debtor meets all the bankruptcy requirements, his or her unsecured debts will be wiped out. It is also worth mentioning that for you to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must not have completed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the last eight years.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is generally filed by people who have a stable income source but need help dealing with their financial situation. Basically, with this type of bankruptcy, a repayment plan is established to allow the debtor to pay back some or all debts that they owe creditors over some time. Although it’s more difficult to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it may allow the debtor to keep their home and car as they pay off their debts. Remember that to qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy; you must demonstrate that you can pay off your debt.
2. Prepare a list of some of the top bankruptcy lawyers in your area
Search for bankruptcy lawyers in your area and make a list of them. The list doesn’t have to be lengthy. After preparing the list, you can narrow it down by researching each lawyer. Start by checking if the lawyer is licensed. Having a license shows that the lawyer has gone through the necessary training and education. To help you narrow down your list, check the experience level of each lawyer on your list. A good bankruptcy lawyer must have experience in bankruptcy law. You can check the lawyers’ websites to find out if they actually practice bankruptcy law.
3. Set an appointment with the lawyer
Once you have narrowed down your list and remained with a few lawyers, you need to set up an appointment before committing to one. Contact the lawyers to set up an appointment with them. You can get their contacts on their website. Ask the Phoenix bankruptcy lawyer about the specific documents you need to bring with you.
4. Ask the right questions
The consultation or appointment is to help you decide whether or not you will hire the lawyer. There are plenty of questions that can help you settle on the right bankruptcy lawyer. Some of the questions you should ask during the consultation include:
- Will the lawyer handle your case directly?
- What is the experience level of the lawyer in bankruptcy cases?
- Has the lawyer ever handled a case similar to yours?
- Do you have other alternatives to filing for bankruptcy?
- Are there any red flags in your case?
- How can the lawyer be reached easily?
- How long will the process take?
- How will the lawyer keep you updated on the progress?
Getting answers to these questions can help you make an informed choice when it comes to hiring a bankruptcy lawyer.
5. Check the lawyer’s communication skills
The lawyer will represent you legally, so both of you must understand each other’s needs. During the consultation, did the lawyer listen to you carefully and even give you attention? Did the lawyer explain things to you in a clear way that’s easy to understand? Was he or she rude or cold, or was he courteous and polite? These questions can give you a better idea regarding how the lawyer deals with his or her clients.
6. Check the lawyer’s fees
The amount of fees the lawyer asks you for filing bankruptcy is an important factor that you must consider. However, that shouldn’t be the only factor determining whether or not you should hire a bankruptcy lawyer. Start by finding out how much local bankruptcy lawyers charge in your areas. Be wary of lawyers who charge extremely low or high fees than the average in your area. However, you always get what you pay for, and of course, receiving legal advice and high-quality legal services comes with a price. Remember to hire a bankruptcy lawyer whose fees you are comfortable with.
Why it’s important to file bankruptcy with a lawyer
Even if you cannot afford a lawyer, it is still not advisable to file bankruptcy pro se [without a lawyer]. When you file bankruptcy without a lawyer’s help, you will still be held to the same standard as a lawyer.
Many people file bankruptcy pro se because they believe hiring a lawyer will complicate the process. But this is not true. The knowledge that a bankruptcy lawyer has can help make the process of filing for bankruptcy easier for you. So when filing for bankruptcy, don’t hesitate to contact a Phoenix bankruptcy lawyer.