Often, one of the most significant concerns people have when deciding to hire a bankruptcy lawyer is how much it will cost. This is certainly a fair question, as you’re trying to get rid of your financial struggles, not create more. Some attorneys charge a flat rate for all types of cases. Others charge their fees depending on the difficulty of the case and the amount of work required to resolve it.
When asking additional questions of your prospective bankruptcy attorney, it may be a good idea to get answers to the following concerns:
How many bankruptcy cases have you filed?
This is a question people often fail to ask; however, it’s a critical consideration. If an attorney has filed and is working with 500+ cases, you will probably not be able to communicate with that person easily due to their high caseload. In that event, you may receive inadequate representation. To get a more in-depth view of an attorney’s cases, he or she may allow you to view their PACER account. PACER is a government-run website that shows the number of cases the lawyer has represented.
Can you help me with a review of the means test forms?
A means test helps to determine if you are eligible to file a simpler Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The means test is rather complex, so your attorney should explain each section to you in terms you can understand. If you are advised that you don’t qualify for a Chapter 7 based on income, make sure to ask the lawyer to explain how he or she came to this conclusion. Furthermore, if you are filing a Chapter 13, be sure to ask the lawyer how your monthly debt payment plan was calculated.
Do you handle both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases?
If situations change, it is possible that some Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases should be converted to a Chapter 13, or vice versa. In some very rare circumstances, problems arise after the case is filed that necessitate a conversion. Your attorney should know how to handle such an event and be able to explain the likelihood of this happening to you.
Do you specialize in bankruptcy law, or are you in general practice?
While your lawyer doesn’t have to specialize in bankruptcy alone, the laws are complicated. Although a lawyer’s focus may not be solely on bankruptcy law, he or she may also work in other areas of law that intersect with bankruptcy law, such as real estate law or business law.
Will I have direct access to you for questions and concerns?
Some large law firms use paralegals to handle many of their communications with clients. When bankruptcy law is in play, many of the answers to your questions may involve some type of legal advice. You may want to have communications with your attorney that a paralegal cannot provide. As such, you may wish to have your lawyer’s phone extension or a direct email address.
A bankruptcy lawyer, like a chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer in Bloomington, IL, can provide answers to your most pressing questions. Don’t delay—contact an attorney today.
Thanks to Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols for their insight into what questions you should ask a bankruptcy lawyer before filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.