Know What Questions to Ask Your Bankruptcy Attorney
If you are examining your bankruptcy options online, there are a few important questions you should ask your bankruptcy attorney first.
Does your bankruptcy attorney offer free initial consultations?
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of a free initial consultation that is really free. Do not be afraid to ask whether there are hidden fees associated with the consultation or whether you will be billed for it later if you choose to hire the attorney with whom you have the “free” initial consultation. Also ask whether there are time limits to a consultation. Some attorneys will limit their consultations to 15 or 30 minutes. In most cases, a good rule of thumb is that an initial consultation will require approximately one hour. Also, make sure that a “free initial consultation” does not require you to use that bankruptcy attorney’s services. Does your bankruptcy attorney have the ability to perform workouts, negotiations, debt settlements and litigation? If your bankruptcy attorney only has one tool in his toolbox, that is the one he is likely to use even if you might be better served with some other strategy.
Does your bankruptcy attorney represent debtors in cases under chapter 7, chapter 13 and chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code?
There are restrictions regarding who may be a debtor under each chapter of the United States Bankruptcy Code. A debtor under chapter 7 must undergo the “means test” to determine whether the presumption of abuse would apply to a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. For instance, only a debtor with a regular source of income may be a debtor under chapter 13. Beyond that, there are restrictions on how much debt a debtor may have (both secured and unsecured debt) and still qualify for relief under chapter 13. A debtor who exceeds the income thresholds for chapter 7 and exceeds the debt limits for chapter 13, may be required to file a case under chapter 11 (a section of the Bankruptcy Code generally reserved for business debtors). Moreover, if you have filed previous bankruptcy cases, that could also affect your eligibility to file a case or receive a discharge under certain chapters of the United States Bankruptcy Code.
Does your bankruptcy attorney have experience with cases like yours?
There is no substitute for experience. Make sure your bankruptcy attorney has represented similarly situated clients. Do not be afraid to ask simple and complex questions regarding how a bankruptcy case works and what you should expect from the process. Gauge how your attorney responds to those questions. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can provide you with timely and complete answers to your questions.
Has your bankruptcy attorney been subject to any disciplinary proceedings?
The disciplinary board publishes records of attorney discipline online. Alternatively, you can ask your bankruptcy attorney directly whether he or she has been subject to any disciplinary proceedings. Furthermore, in Pennsylvania, your bankruptcy attorney is required to tell you whether he or she maintains professional liability insurance.
Does your bankruptcy attorney have experience in representing debtors in foreclosure situations?
Your bankruptcy attorney should have experience with foreclosure cases if your situation involves a foreclosure. The deadlines and timeframes involved in the foreclosure process may require your bankruptcy attorney to file certain documents in state court before or after the filing of a bankruptcy case. In fact, it may be the case that it is more sensible to defend the foreclosure case than to file a bankruptcy case. Your bankruptcy attorney should also be able to explain the details of the bankruptcy court’s loss mitigation program if one is available in your jurisdiction.
Has your bankruptcy attorney stripped judgment liens?
Generally, a judgment acts as a lien on all real property of the judgment debtor in the county in which the judgment is entered. If a non-consensual judgment lien exists impairs your homestead exemption, you may be able to have it judicially removed through the bankruptcy process. This does not happen automatically. If you have a judgment entered against you and you own real property, talk to your bankruptcy attorney about stripping that judgment lien.
Has your bankruptcy attorney challenged the secured status of creditors who claim to be owed more than the value of their collateral?
Certain secured creditors whose interests are undersecured (that is, creditors whose collateral is worth less than the debtor owes them on the secured indebtedness) may have their claims bifurcated into secured and unsecured components. As with liens that impair an exemption, this process does not happen automatically. If you believe you have an encumbered asset on which you owe more than the value of the asset, talk to your bankruptcy attorney about a determination of secured status.
Does your bankruptcy attorney have excellent online reviews?
You are not the first person to have faced insolvency and many experienced bankruptcy attorney have online reviews. Those reviews can be very helpful in determining whether your bankruptcy lawyer is a good fit for you.
If you are considering your bankruptcy options, don’t wait. Take the opportunity for a free initial consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney today.
Robleto Law, PLLC – (412) 925-8194
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for relief under the United States Bankruptcy Code.
Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney