Bankruptcy Attorneys: Who do You Trust?
Bankruptcy attorneys specialize in helping individuals and business owners obtain relief from debt. The new bankruptcy laws implemented in 2005 caused many bankruptcy attorneys to turn to new areas of law. Reason being the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act has made filing bankruptcy so difficult many attorneys opted out of the profession.
Bankruptcy attorneys who continued in the field are now charging considerably higher fees. BAPCPA requires considerable documentation, administration of the 'means' test to determine clients' eligibility, and strict deadlines to adhere to. The process is complex, time-consuming and requires considerably more man-hours.
The provisions enacted through BAPCPA were originally intended to protect consumers. In actuality they created stringent rules and regulations which require more time and effort by both bankruptcy lawyers and debtors seeking bankruptcy protection.
Although there is no law which requires debtors to hire a bankruptcy attorney, few people can adhere to the new bankruptcy laws without legal assistance. Just one missed deadline or improper document can cause a bankruptcy petition to be dismissed. Therefore, anyone considering filing for personal or business bankruptcy should seriously consider retaining the services of a qualified bankruptcy lawyer.
Personal bankruptcy chapters include 7 and 13. In instances where individuals carry a significant amount of debt, they may be entitled to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Chapters 9 and 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code are typically reserved for corporations and partnerships, while Chapter 12 is reserved for farmers. Although bankruptcy attorneys can elect to work with both personal and business filings, it is usually best to work with a lawyer who specializes in one field or the other.
Experts suggest consulting with a minimum of three bankruptcy attorneys before making a final decision. There are many ways to locate lawyers who specialize in bankruptcy. One of the best ways to locate a bankruptcy attorney is through other lawyers. Most attorneys network with colleagues and are familiar with their skills and areas of expertise. If you retain the services of an attorney for other matters, ask for a referral.
Another source for referrals is through friends, family, neighbors or co-workers. This can be a delicate subject and should be approached respectfully. Many people are embarrassed about filing bankruptcy. If you decide to ask friends or family members for a referral, be discreet. If you are not supposed to know they filed bankruptcy, you might want to avoid the topic altogether.
Your local phone book is a great resource for locating bankruptcy attorneys. Additionally, the American Bar Association website provides a nationwide listing of bankruptcy attorneys. It is important to note the ABA does not make referrals. They only provide names and contact information. Therefore, if you select an attorney through ABA conduct additional research to ensure the lawyer is in good standing.
Contact each lawyer who specializes in the type of bankruptcy you want to file. Start by calling attorneys who are conveniently located near your home or office. Make a list of questions you have about the bankruptcy process, attorney fees, etc. Ask if the law firm offers complimentary consultations or charges a fee to review your case.
Be prepared and organized when meeting with bankruptcy attorneys. When scheduling your consultation, be certain to ask exactly what documents the attorney will require. Oftentimes, you will be expected to provide pay stubs or evidence of income, current copies of monthly bills, current tax return, financial portfolio, bank statements and a list of assets such as artwork, jewelry, automobiles or household furnishings.
It is important to work with bankruptcy attorneys who take time to listen to your needs and put you at ease. Realize you will be spending a considerable amount of time talking with your attorney. Chances are there will be times when the process becomes emotionally overwhelming. Although you don't need a bankruptcy lawyer to be your therapist, having a compassionate, understanding attorney can make the process a little easier to get through.
If possible, take time to interview as many bankruptcy attorneys as it takes to find the one you feel is right for you. A reputable attorney will explain the pros and cons of each bankruptcy chapter and advise you of all available options
Published on October 20, 2008 at 08:37 PM | Comments: 1