1. How do I know if bankruptcy is the right solution for me?
I offer a free initial consultation in which we will discuss your case in detail and will determine the best course of action. After discussing such things as your income, liabilities, and assets we will get a better sense for whether or not filing for bankruptcy is your best option and which chapter is best for your situation.
2. How does the bankruptcy process work? Is it true that filing for bankruptcy is a lot of work?
Generally, the entire process takes approximately three months before the case is completed. The first step is to contact the firm to set up an appointment for your initial consultation. As is the practice with any good bankruptcy firm, I will have you fill out a detailed client questionnaire which will provide me with the necessary information concerning your income, assets, and debts. In addition, I will ask you to provide certain key documents like pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, copies of deeds and titles, etc. This information is required under the bankruptcy law in order for an attorney to proceed with the filing of a case. You will then be expected to attend a credit counseling course by phone or over the internet prior to filing your case. After your case has been filed,the court will call you to a “creditors meeting” during which time you will be asked certain questions by the trustee for which I will prepare you in advance. Finally, the court will require you to take one other financial education course which many people find is actually very helpful.
3. Wait a second, the above does sound like a lot of work. Why should I put myself through this?
Because it is worth it! The bankruptcy laws provide you the opportunity to potentially wipe out thousands of dollars in debt and get a fresh start. In exchange, a minimal amount of work is involved. As your attorney, I will walk you through the process step by step.
4. What will happen to my credit score? What will life be like after I file bankruptcy?
No doubt about it, your credit will be negatively affected. However, if you are already months behind on your monthly payments, your credit has already been significantly impacted. And while bankruptcy filings remain on your credit report for up to 10 years, if you pay your bills in a timely fashion, you will repair your credit in a few years. Many creditors will resume lending you money because they are aware that once you file for chapter 7 bankruptcy for instance, you may not do so again for 8 years.
5. Will I be able to keep my car? My home?
I hate to use the “it depends” answer, but it really does depend on a number of factors. We can determine more during our initial consultation.
6. I’ve heard some rumors that since the new law passed in 2005 it is nearly impossible to declare bankruptcy. Is that true?
No. Over 1 million people successfully declared bankruptcy last year. Since the law changed, consumers must complete more paperwork and the court scrutinizes one’s finances a bit more closely, however beyond that, the fundamental benefits extended by the bankruptcy laws continue to exist.
7. Can you make those harassing phone calls and annoying collection letters stop?
Yes. The moment that you retain my services you will begin to instruct all the debt collectors that are calling you/writing you that you have retained counsel and direct them to contact me regarding any of your debt matters. If they fail to listen, I will promptly get their attention.
8. Since I am going to file for bankruptcy in a few weeks anyway and I still have money available under my credit line can I continue using my credit card?
Absolutely not! If you continue to make charges and then file for bankruptcy, you can expect the credit card company to file an objection and the court will hold you personally liable for those charges. The moment you begin contemplating bankruptcy, the credit card usage must stop. Also, it is fraudulent to make any transfer of assets from your name to someone else’s name prior to filing for bankruptcy.
9. What are some of the financial mistakes that I should avoid making while contemplating bankruptcy?
One of the most costly mistakes people make is draining their retirement account in order to make minimum payments on their credit card bills. If filing for bankruptcy is just a matter of time, then there is no reason to drain your retirement accounts. Your credit card balances will be eliminated in bankruptcy and the court cannot touch your retirement assets to satisfy your creditors. Don’t rob Peter just to pay Paul!