Should A Person Hire A Lawyer For A Bankruptcy Case?

Yes, they should hire a lawyer for this. They changed the law in October 2005 and there is just a lot more paperwork to do. Somebody who does it for a living can work around all of those problems but somebody who does not do this type of work for a living is going to have a lot of problems. The United States trustee’s office, which is the office that supervises the chapter 7 trustees, will show up at the meeting of creditors saying that the paperwork needs to be done a certain way and such and such items need to be filed. They will try to keep identifying problems with all of the paperwork. They are there to either make sure that the person does the paperwork right or to get the case dismissed.

The chapter 7 trustee is still there and the chapter 7 trustee’s rule is to gather any non-exempted assets, any assets that are not protected. If a person was not able to protect their assets, then they would lose them and there is no undoing that. A person cannot just ask for the case to be dismissed because the chapter 7 trustee will still grab things that are non-exempted. If someone files the paperwork incorrectly and can’t exempt something like an extra car, then they will have a problem and will be stuck with that problem.

How does someone know which bankruptcy lawyer is more suitable and who has the right experience?

People should always shop around, take a look and see who they are dealing with, who can answer their questions, and see if one attorney raises some issues but the other attorney just says everything is fine. Every once in a while, people come in who have talked to another attorney, and when I go through their case and catch a few red flags, they say that the other attorney did not bring up those issues. That may be a red flag to that person because the issue is not going to go away, and did the lawyer really know about it and not want to bring it up until the person is three or four steps into the process because the person will not leave after that.

The other thing is that some of the people who do bankruptcy work have offices in three, four, or five cities across the state and they get spread thin as a pancake, so how would they be able to handle all of those cases in all of those different cities? That can be a very big problem. The other thing is that when someone goes to a law firm that has offices in different parts of the state, usually the person they are meeting with is paid based on how many cases they sign up. They may have to explain why they were not hired, so they will tell the person anything they can to get the person to hire them because they don’t want it to affect their pay. A person should really want to find out what all their options are, look at the pros and cons of each option and find out which option is best for them. Sometimes it is not bankruptcy, sometimes it’s something else. Someone may not want to get bankruptcy advice from somebody at a law firm who is in all these different cities and where they are paid on the number of people that they sign up because they may be recommending bankruptcy when really the best option may be something else.

What About Those Places On The Side Of The Road That Advertise, “Bankruptcy Only $299”?

We don’t have any of those things over here. The United States trustee’s office looks into things like that and they want to try and bring those people into the courtroom, as an unauthorized practice of the law or something like that, so we just don’t have those around here.

Do You Just Have Petition Preparers That File Bankruptcy?

We don’t have any of those because the US trustee’s office will go after them.

Do Debt Settlement Companies And Debt Counseling Places Work And What Happens With People When They Go To Them?

One option for handling a debt problem is debt management, and that is when someone would go to a place like GreenPath Credit and figure out what it takes to pay all of their credit cards in full. They give the person one monthly number and ask them to fit it in their budget. Most of my clients though would not be coming to see me if they could pay all their credit cards in full. Yes, it is one monthly payment as opposed to several payments that they will make to the individual credit cards, but the bottom line is that they are in my office because they cannot pay everybody in full.

The top level has the least damage to someone’s credit because they are paying everybody in full. The next step down would be debt settlement and that is where someone would get a cash discount, but a person needs to have cash to get a cash discount. They may settle for 40 or 50 cents on the dollar but firstly they have to have the cash, secondly they have to be ready for the income tax hit at next April 15 because anything they write-off or cancel is treated as income, and the person will have to pay income tax on it, thirdly the person’s credit will be doomed because they are paying less than agreed. The person would be debt free but they have to have cash, be ready for the taxes and be ready for the credit hit.

Are There A Lot Of Trade-Offs?

There are a lot of trade-offs, but another option is to just do nothing. For some bigger firms that may be an option that gets glossed-over, but sometimes doing nothing is an option. Ironically, most of the people who think it is okay to do nothing are the ones who have problems, whereas the people who are just really stressed out are worried about it. I tell them they can just do nothing, and they are surprised by that. About 80 percent of the time the recommendation not to do anything is for somebody who is thinking this is the end of the road and they can’t do it. The ironic part is that the person who thinks that everything is okay, can’t not do anything about it because of their situation, especially when all the cons are pointed out to them.

What Are The Steps Someone Would Go Through In Experiencing The Bankruptcy Process And Working With Your Office?

First I meet with them and take a look at all their income and their expenses and then review all of their options so that they can see which option is best for them. If they want to file a bankruptcy, we open up the file and give them a homework assignment, basically to collect the name, address and account number for all of their creditors and pay stubs and tax returns. Along with that, we also set up a payment plan which is tailored to their budget. There is usually no cost for the initial consult and if we don’t charge a fee for opening up the file, we just tell them to start paying on their next visit, and we set up a payment plan and a timetable that fits their schedule so we just take it one step at a time.

Is There Anything Other Than Paperwork That You Would Be Paid For?

There is paperwork, payment and proof – proof of income and things like that.

What Do People Tell You And How Do They Feel Once You Help Them To File?

After I meet with somebody and review all of their options, most people say they can sleep easier. Their problems are not solved by any means, but they are just able to sleep easier knowing that there is a solution and they know what their options are. Sometimes when they worry about things, they make a situation seem worse than it really is and they think they can go to jail, and they feel like there is something really out of balance.

The next thing is I always tell them is to cooperate and graduate. There are going to be things they have to gather for us and we have to get all that because we cannot file blank pages. Then they also get to graduate. They will have to do whatever steps necessary like a budgeting class, which would be done on the internet and we would show them how to do it, but that is after the case is filed. They have to take little steps but once they cooperate and graduate, they are debt free and their situation changes dramatically and their credit starts improving. Clients have called back or come in because they bought a house afterwards, and needed some paperwork from their bankruptcy case so they can just show some of these things that were on their credit were actually included, and they can get qualified for a home loan.

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