What To Ask a Bankruptcy Attorney During a Consultation To Ensure Your Hire Is The Right Fit
If you’re considering declaring bankruptcy, you have probably been inundated with offers from attorneys of great service, reasonable fees, and more. Then, when it comes to time to sign your retainer agreement, there may be extra fees, delays, and other inconveniences you didn’t anticipate. So how can you prepare yourself to avoid these kinds of surprises? Asking the right questions during your consultations with Phoenix bankruptcy lawyers will help you determine which firm is the right choice for you.
Do You Charge For Your Consultations?
Most people who are preparing for bankruptcy have a tight budget. As counterintuitive as it may seem, bankruptcy comes with significant costs- attorney’s fees, filing fees, credit counseling fees, etc. Another potential expense during the bankruptcy process is consultation costs. Some bankruptcy attorneys will charge a fee for an initial consultation, while others offer them free of charge. Every last dollar counts in bankruptcy, so you shouldn’t have to settle for an attorney who won’t offer a risk-free debt evaluation. You may also find it preferable to hold an initial consultation over the phone. For your free phone consultation with one of our Arizona bankruptcy lawyers, call .
How Long Does It Typically Take To Prepare a Bankruptcy Petition?
Much of how long your bankruptcy takes to prepare will depend on yourself. Your Tucson bankruptcy attorney will need several types of documents in order to draft your petition, and you also must complete credit counseling before your case can be filed. However, most attorneys know how long it takes for them to prepare different types of bankruptcy petitions.
Do You Offer Expedited Filings For Emergency Situations?
When a vehicle repossession, home foreclosure, or wage garnishment is imminent, you don’t have time to wait to file your bankruptcy. The automatic stay goes into effect once your petition is filed, and stops all of those forms of creditor collection, and more. If you are in such a situation, it’s vital that your case is filed as quickly as possible to activate the automatic stay. You should seek out bankruptcy attorneys that offer emergency or “skeleton” filings. This allows you to file your case with limited information and prepare the rest of your petition while protected by the automatic stay. You will have two weeks to submit the rest of your petition after an emergency/skeleton filing.
What Is Your Experience With Cases Like Mine?
An attorney may advertise years of experience, when actually very little of it is relevant. In times of economic downturn, attorneys of all areas of law will switch to bankruptcy practice as a means to capitalize on the situation. Or, your attorney may have been practicing bankruptcy for a while, but only has experience in Chapter 7 bankruptcies, or has no experience with clients who own their own businesses. Your attorney shouldn’t have to do extensive research to answer basic questions during your consultation.
Can You Estimate My Chapter 13 Plan Payments?
First, your Arizona bankruptcy attorney should be able to help you determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Income restrictions are usually what disqualify people from Chapter 7, leaving Chapter 13 available as an option. While filing any type of bankruptcy is a huge commitment, Chapter 13 bankruptcy will tie up your disposable monthly income for three or five years. Your attorney should be able to tell you how long your potential Chapter 13 plan would last, and approximately how much your payments would be. This may be presented to you in a possible range of monthly payments. Of course, the more detail you can provide your attorney with during your initial consultation, the more accurate of an estimate your attorney can provide.
How Do You Accept Documents For My Petition?
Some bankruptcy attorneys that have been around for years haven’t evolved to keep up with the times. Document submission will be one of your greatest responsibilities during the bankruptcy process, but your attorney’s services can either make this easier or more difficult for you. If you have to mail or drop off physical copies of the documents necessary to draft your petition, this will cause you unnecessary hassle and expense. On the other hand, simply submitting documents through email isn’t ideal, either. This opens you up to the risk of your sensitive documents being compromised. Your bankruptcy attorney should offer a secure document portal to upload your documents quickly and safely. These types of programs also often offer case updates, copies of your invoices, and other conveniences.
Do You Have a Support Staff?
Many Arizona bankruptcy attorneys discreetly operate as a solo practice, and use an answering service in lieu of a receptionist. At first, an attorney handling every step of your case may sound great. However, this leaves your attorney to juggle several administrative tasks in addition to all of their legal responsibilities for your case. However, unless you are your attorney’s only client, your attorney is likely in and out of 341 hearings all day, every day. Paralegals, administrative assistants, and other support staff can help you with gathering documents, answering questions, contacting the court or your creditors, and more, while your attorney is busy in court. Reducing an attorney’s unnecessary workload also allows them to charge more reasonable fees.
What Types Of Payment Plans Do You Offer?
Many bankruptcy attorneys offer payment plans. It’s important to fully understand the terms of your payment plan before retaining, or you could end up spending money on a case that never gets filed. One important factor to consider in bankruptcy payment plans is whether you are required to pay your balance in full before your petition can be filed. A post-filing payment plan allows for you to pay for your bankruptcy after your case has been filed, meaning after wage garnishments and other creditor collections have stopped. You should also confirm whether your filing fees can be included in your payment plan- the current filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $338! Other features you should look for in an Arizona bankruptcy attorney are a low or zero percent interest rate and credit reporting. A true Zero Down Bankruptcy will feature all the above.
Contact Our AZ Bankruptcy Lawyers For Assistance
There are several other questions that you may have for your bankruptcy attorney based on your specific circumstances. For answers to all of these questions, our Arizona bankruptcy lawyers offer FREE initial phone consultations. We also offer Zero Down bankruptcy payment plans for eligible Chapter 7 clients. Pay for your bankruptcy in affordable monthly payments with zero percent interest, starting at zero dollars down. To get started with your free phone consultation, call (602) 609-7000 or use our web form to schedule.