If you’ve found yourself considering bankruptcy in NYC, you aren’t alone. Every year, around 1% of Americans file bankruptcy (BCS Alliance), and each of them face the same dilemma when they get started: how to choose the best bankruptcy attorney to help them through this process.
When you are in the initial interview with your bankruptcy attorney, they’ll have a lot of questions to ask you about your finances and debts. While this can feel invasive, they are asking these questions to establish your eligibility and what type of bankruptcy you should file. However, you should never leave their office without asking a few questions of your own, to determine if they are a good fit for you. Here are five questions to ask your bankruptcy attorney before they ever take your case.
- Do you have experience with my specific situation?
Bankruptcy cases can get complex, especially because everyone’s case is different. No two people will have taken the same path to debt, but that doesn’t mean that your attorney doesn’t have the applicable experience for your case. If your debt primarily consists of back taxes, for example, be sure that you ask your lawyer about their experience with the IRS and bankruptcy.
- What are the risks of filing bankruptcy?
Any good lawyer should be upfront with you about the risks of bankruptcy. Your credit will take a hit, though it will bounce back quicker than you may think. You will likely lose some assets, though not as many as most people fear. You will have to allow every transaction you’ve made recently, and will make in the near future, to be heavily scrutinized. Your spouse, parents, or adult children could be at risk as well. Be sure you understand these potential problems.
- Who is going to prepare the bankruptcy paperwork?
Bankruptcy schedules in NYC are often a bit complicated, and will require you to fill out certain forms. For example, one form requires you to list every single thing of value you own, right down to the trinkets you bought on Spring Break ’01. But your lawyer should be able to offer assistance with other pages, where the requirements aren’t as simple. They may also have staff that assists with this step, to ensure that every part of the schedule is filled out correctly before submitting.
- What does the attorney’s fee include?
The fee should be discussed in detail, and you should have an understanding of what the entire cost of the bankruptcy will be. Of course, some unforeseen circumstances may make the cost to rise, but you should still be getting a single number from them at the start that estimates how much you’ll spend on the attorney fees overall. Don’t be afraid to ask about payment plans – you’re filing bankruptcy, after all. A lawyer should understand that you have limited funds that you must be careful with.
- What type of bankruptcy should I file based on what you’ve seen so far?
There are two reasons to ask this question during the initial interview. The first is that you’ll glean some valuable information about the types of bankruptcies. The second is that you can determine just how confident the lawyer is in their information. Knowing that you are working with an experienced, knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney in NYC will put your mind at ease regarding the entire process.
If you would like to learn more, contact me today at 212-244-2882 to schedule a consultation. My office specializes in NYC bankruptcies, and has a long history of helping people of all situations protect their assets and their dignity throughout a bankruptcy.