If you're considering filing for bankruptcy, you'll want to come up with a few questions to ask a bankruptcy attorney before you hire one.
Failing to ask the right questions -- especially regarding attorney's fees or the specifics of your case -- can end up costing you, both in terms of wasted time and money.
To help you get started, here are five questions to consider asking your (potential) bankruptcy lawyer:
- Should I file for bankruptcy? The first question you should ask a bankruptcy attorney is whether filing for bankruptcy is a good idea for you. Ask about the impact of bankruptcy and what to expect post-bankruptcy.
- What type of bankruptcy should I file? Once you determine that filing for bankruptcy is in your best interest, you'll have to decide which type of bankruptcy to file, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. That answer will depend on the particulars of your case. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages that your attorney can explain to you.
- How much is this going to cost? Get an estimate from the attorney on how much your case will cost in total, including court fees, attorney fees, and unexpected fees (if an unexpected hiccup or two happens in your case along the way). Get an idea of what situations cause higher fees and whether the lawyer sees any potential complications in your particular case. Also, ask about a flexible payment plan if you're too financially strapped to file for bankruptcy.
- How long is the process? Definitely ask about the timeline of a bankruptcy case. Ask when your case will be filed, the basic steps in the process, and a general estimate of when you can expect the case to be resolved.
- Are there any red flags in my case? If you've done anything prior to your case that the court might consider a bankruptcy no-no -- such as "gifting" an asset to a family member or friend or making pricey purchases you knew you couldn't realistically pay back -- definitely ask about those issues. Ask about other potential issues he or she notices that could affect your bankruptcy eligibility.
If you're ready to do an initial interview, find an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in your area, get your questions in order, and ask away.