No one aspires to some day file for bankruptcy, but unfortunately many of us are forced into a situation where it is the best way to solve our economic crisis. Circumstances like sickness, job loss, divorce, and even irresponsible living are all major causes for filing personal bankruptcy.
So when the chips are down and you need to file for bankruptcy, where do you even start? A recent client of ours did it the smart way, and you should too.
All By Myself
Yes, you are allowed to file for bankruptcy all by yourself.
Is it a good idea? Probably not.
Our client first considered filing on her own. She soon realized that bankruptcy is complicated. Even if you could learn all there is to know about bankruptcy on paper before filing, (which unless you are Stephen Hawking, is probably impossible) there are still many nuances that can only be learned through years of actually practicing bankruptcy.
It’s true that you don’t have to know absolutely everything to effectively file for bankruptcy by yourself. Many people do it successfully every day. Our client was tempted by the fact that she could save a lot of money on attorney’s fees if she filed on her own.
However, she soon realized that if she did make a mistake when she filed, there were dire consequences. She could lose a valuable asset or thousands of dollars worth of cash. A mistake might cause her case to be dismissed, and if the court felt she committed a fraud, she could even face fines and jail time.
So you have made the wise choice to hire a bankruptcy attorney. How do you decide who to go with? You should do what our client did.
If your doctor tells you that you need open-heart surgery, you’ll probably get a second or a third opinion before you go under the knife, right? Well shopping for an attorney should be the same. Once our client decided that she needed an attorney to file her bankruptcy, she booked appointments with three different offices. They all offered free consultations, so all it cost her was a little time.
We were the second office she visited. After meeting with all three attorneys, she chose our office.
We weren’t the cheapest of the three, but we were the office where she felt the most comfortable. She liked the attorney and staff that she met. She appreciated that our office focuses exclusively on bankruptcy, and has done so for over a decade. She also thought it was important that she dealt with only her attorney from start to finish, unlike some other firms where paralegals handle most of the actual legal work on a case.
These are the characteristics of a bankruptcy law firm that you should look for as well.
1. Does your attorney have a lot of bankruptcy experience?
3. Does your attorney focus primarily on bankruptcy law?
3. Will you be working directly with your attorney, or will paralegals handle the bulk of your case?
4. Do you feel comfortable working with your attorney from a personality standpoint? Your attorney might be great on paper, but if he or she rubs you the wrong way, it’s probably not the right fit for you.