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Considering Bankruptcy? Ask Your Attorney The Right Questions Before You File

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Filing for bankruptcy can be difficult for anyone, but a qualified attorney can make the process easier with expert legal counsel. If you're interviewing potential lawyers or meeting one for the first time about your case, it's important to ask the right questions about your circumstances.

What Type Of Bankruptcy Should You File?

If you don't yet know whether to file for chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy, the first thing you ask a bankruptcy attorney is which choice is right for you. Having an attorney explain both types can not only help you decide how to file, but also decide whether or not your attorney is expert enough to take your case.

Whichever kind of bankruptcy your lawyer recommends, you should ask whether he or she has experience with cases in that area. A lawyer who recommends chapter 7 bankruptcy should have a history of successful chapter 7 cases, and the first meeting is the best time to find out whether a prospective lawyer does.

How Can The New Code Affect Your Case?

In 2005, America's bankruptcy code was amended to prevent wealthy people and frequent filers from taking advantage of bankruptcy's benefits. While the majority of everyday filers are not affected, it takes a legal expert to determine whether or not the outcome of a case will be changed by the 2005 code.

If you have exceptionally high debts, or you recently filed for bankruptcy in the past, the 2005 code could make it more difficult for you to file chapter 7 bankruptcy and have your debts forgiven. If you feel your bankruptcy is extraordinary in scope or any other aspect, you should discuss with your lawyer whether or not you could be facing an unexpected outcome when you file. 

How Much Will You Pay For Your Bankruptcy?

Lawyer fees can vary by lawyer and by case, so you should ask each lawyer you interview what you'll be paying for their services. Potential attorneys can also instruct you as to what legal and filing fees to expect when you file and pursue your case.

If you've decided to file chapter 13 bankruptcy, your lawyer may be able to also help you estimate how much you'll be paying each month and how long your pay period is. No payments are required for chapter 7 bankruptcy, but your lawyer can give you advice about which assets the court will liquidate and what you can do to get the most value out of them.

Does Your Case Have Potential Problems?

Most people don't keep the details of bankruptcy code in mind in the years leading up to a bankruptcy filing. However, your actions prior to filing can have a dramatic effect on your case, sometimes leaving you with hurtful outcomes. If you think some of your actions may be questionable by the court, you should ask your potential attorney as soon as possible.

For example, if you paid back debts preferentially — returning money first to family or friends that you owe — you could be opening up your past creditors to a lawsuit. In the event of a bankruptcy, your current creditors are entitled to sue people who received a disproportionate amount of your money in the recent past. If you want to prevent this, you'll need to discuss your recent payments with your lawyer.

You might also run into problems with your case if you've sold any assets in the past two years. Selling them for a fair value is fine, but if you accepted less than market price for something you sold, your creditors may bring it up against you and expect payment for the difference in what you received for the item and the market price.

Don't be intimidated by filing for bankruptcy. With a skilled lawyer and the right questions, you can find your way through the complex legal system and get the debt relief you need to put your life back on track. Contact a company like Yoder Law Group for more information.