No one wants to file for bankruptcy. Some people think that the only people who go bankrupt are people who lived wild lives and spent much more money than they had. The truth is that more than 60% of American bankruptcy filings are due to medical debt. And the situation is only getting worse. Personal bankruptcy is on the rise. The rate of filings in California, for instance, has gone up about 600% since 2006. People who handle their own chapter 7 bankruptcy filings will success only 60% of the time. The success rate, however, for people who have an attorney, jumps to over 95%.
So, I need a bankruptcy attorney, how do I find one? When talking to bankruptcy lawyers, make sure you ask the following questions.
- Is filing for bankruptcy something I should do? You may think you need to file for bankruptcy but it might not actually the best option for you and your circumstances. The attorney or law firm you consult should be able to walk you through what you can expect after you file for bankruptcy. It might not be the right thing for you to do and they can look at your case and give you their assessment.
- What are the different kinds and what kind should I file? This is not a “one size fits all” situation and there are different kinds of bankruptcy filings. Is chapter 13 bankruptcy right for you? Is chapter 7 better?
- What are the fees? There are attorney fees, court costs, filing fees. Your lawyer should be able to go through how much the entire process should cost. Ask if the attorney sees anything that might causes delays or more fees in your case. Ask if they think your case can be handled quickly or is one that will take more time. If they see any potential problems, ask them to let you know. They know this process very well and should be able to anticipate certain issues.
- How long will this take? You need to know what to expect in terms of a timeline. They will not be able to give you an exact date when your case will be resolved but they should have a general idea about when they will file and how long things take from that point on. This will also give you an idea of how much time they have spent looking over your particular case.
- How much of your practice is devoted to this kind of thing? Does their practice handle a lot of bankruptcies? Only a few? This makes a difference because the law and regulations are very complicated and they do change often. You want someone who deals with this all the time and they know it better than they know any other law specialty. You would not go to to a dermatologist for your heart condition, do not go a general lawyer for your bankruptcy. There is too much at stake.
Filing for bankruptcy is a big step and a hard decision to make. The process is long and tedious but a good attorney can help make it as painless as possible.