Financial hardship is an unfortunate part of life that affects millions of people. If you are sinking into debt and you can barely manage to repay your debts, you need to consider debt-relief options, like filing for bankruptcy. Have you been pursued by creditors? Are collection agents breathing down your back? Luckily, there is an 11 word phrase to stop debt collectors from calling. While this will stop them from calling, it won’t erase the debt.
Before Finding a Bankruptcy Attorney
Before rushing to find or hire a bankruptcy attorney, you need to know if you qualify to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you have decided that Chapter 7 bankruptcy is better for you, are you eligible to file? Use a Chapter 7 means test calculator to see if you qualify and get an estimate of the cost of bankruptcy.
Once you are sure you qualify, you need to identify the total cost of filing for bankruptcy. You will need to pay court administrative costs and attorney fees when filing your petition. You can schedule a free consultation with a local attorney to have an estimate of the total costs.
Though bankruptcy can help get rid of debt, determining which between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy is right for you should be your first step. Before getting started, you could consider taking a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy calculator to see which would work best for you. Next, you need to consult a bankruptcy attorney, but how do you find a reliable bankruptcy attorney?
5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you are filing bankruptcy for the first time, you barely know what is expected of you. Therefore, it is easy to forget to file some documents, or you could miss a deadline that may delay your bankruptcy or get your case dismissed.
A bankruptcy attorney understands the bankruptcy process. Thus, they can offer the proper guidance and knowledge you need to ensure your case runs smoothly. Although there is a lot of information on bankruptcy that you can access through the internet, sometimes, the information available is overwhelming and controversial. Besides, bankruptcy laws vary according to state, and hiring a bankruptcy lawyer saves you the time you would have spent researching.
Filing for bankruptcy is a serious matter, and you need the right help during the entire process. Choosing the right bankruptcy attorney increases your chances of a better outcome, but how do you decide which lawyer to choose? Here are five factors to consider;
1. Referral: Is the attorney a referral from a friend, colleague, or someone you know?
Do you have a friend, family, or workmate who has faced similar financial difficulty and filed for bankruptcy? You can begin by reaching out to them and asking for a personal referral. Referrals save time and resources. Alternatively, you can ask them for a bankruptcy lawyer recommendation if you have a personal lawyer.
Filing bankruptcy needs you to get accurate representation, and the best way to achieve this is by getting a referral. Once you get referred to a lawyer, remember to check their certification. The best attorney should be a member of a professional body like the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.
You should also visit the bar’s website in your State and see if the lawyer is certified and if they have the proper credentials. The website can also help you find out if the lawyer has ever been reprimanded or if he has any misconduct on his record. The information from the website will also shed light on how long the attorney has been practicing. Thus, you get to gauge their experience as well.
2. Reviews: What are people saying about the bankruptcy attorney?
While getting a referral is helpful and time-saving, you need to dig deeper. In bankruptcy cases, each case is unique, and therefore, everyone has a unique experience with the attorney. So, it is essential to go through the attorney’s reviews. What are people saying about the attorney’s services?
When going through the reviews, you need to consider the number of reviews. Many reviews show more people seek the attorney’s services. You should also check the rating of those reviews. If an attorney has many positive reviews and good ratings, it shows his services are excellent.
3. Costs: How Much Does the Bankruptcy Cost Overall?
Despite being bankrupt, filing for bankruptcy will come with administrative filing costs and attorney fees. Therefore, you need to know how much the attorney charges and see if you can afford it.
Remember that costs are based on the state you live in. So when trying to determine the costs, you will want to look up something like “how much does it cost to file bankruptcy in Michigan,” or “how much does it cost to file bankruptcy in Utah,” instead of general cost estimates.
The Chapter of bankruptcy you intend to file will affect the attorney fee. Although it is tempting to hire the cheapest attorney, cheap isn’t always the right option. On the other hand, high fees don’t always mean better representation. So, you need to hire an attorney with reasonable fees and an impressive representation record for a better outcome.
4. Relevancy: Does the attorney focus on bankruptcy law, or does he practice other types of law?
Working with a lawyer specializing in bankruptcy law can make a significant difference in your bankruptcy case going smoothly and coming out of bankruptcy unscathed. You should go for an attorney who focuses on bankruptcy law, Chapter 7 and 13.
You also don’t want to end up with a general attorney practicing different types of laws. A jack of all trades is not always enticing. You need to settle for a lawyer who understands bankruptcy and can navigate through Chapters 7 and 13.
However, specializing in bankruptcy law isn’t the only qualification that makes an attorney exceptionally good. The right attorney for you should be competent, smart, and hardworking. They need to have an impressive record of won cases or cases that led to favorable decisions that favored their clients.
5. Reliability: Will they discuss alternative debt relief options?
These three aspects will help you gauge the reliability of your attorney.
a.) Passion for their Work
Imagine working with a bankruptcy attorney who seems out of touch with your bankruptcy case. A reliable attorney is passionate about their work. Passion and dedication to the case help calm your nerves and assure you everything will go well.
Always go for a bankruptcy lawyer with an immense passion for their work. Lawyers with passion always find new cases fascinating and are always willing to go the extra mile for their clients to ensure favorable outcomes.
b.) Ability to Present Alternative Debt Relief Options to bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is one of the available debt-relief options. An ethical bankruptcy attorney should be willing to present alternative debt-relief options during the consultation. A reliable attorney should present all options, discuss them in detail, help you weigh them, and then allow you to make the final decision.
For example, debt relief is often a common alternative to Chapte 13 bankruptcy. Will the attorney walk through that option with you?
In this space, there are sewerage players such as National Debt Relief, Turbo Debt and Freedom Debt Relief.
It’s important to consider the reviews.
If you are considering other debt-relief options, make sure you are doing your research on the companies you are thinking about working with. For instance, you can read more on Turbodebt reviews or Freedom Debt Relief reviews to learn more about the companies.
c.) How Understanding is the Attorney?
Financial crises can be overwhelming, and most people file for bankruptcy when all other options to settle their debts have failed. Therefore, most people are going through a dark time when filing bankruptcy.
Besides, most people are afraid of filing for bankruptcy due to the stigma and fear of the filing going public. There are a lot of emotions involved in the process, and working with an understanding attorney can make all the difference.
A reliable bankruptcy lawyer understands these emotions and finds a balance between empathizing and asking even the most challenging questions to get the facts right. A competent attorney should offer factual advice and thoughtfully provide concise answers despite the emotions involved. During the consultation, you can tell if you are comfortable with the lawyer. If you are not, you can always find another attorney.
A fast and reliable way to find a bankruptcy attorney is by getting referrals from people who have experienced bankruptcy. Referrals can help you understand how the attorney operates, their strength, weakness, and reliability. Before finding a bankruptcy lawyer, remember to use the calculator to see if you qualify for bankruptcy. Working with a reliable bankruptcy attorney can make the process smoother and the financial burden easier.
Krishna Murthy is the senior publisher at Finance XOD. He is not only the senior publisher but also the owner of Tricky Finance. Krishna Murthy was one of the brilliant students during his college days. He completed his education in MBA (Master of Business Administration), and he is currently managing the all workload for sharing the best banking information over the internet. The main purpose of starting Tricky Finance is to provide all the precious information related to businesses and the banks to his readers.