The decision on which attorney to retain for your bankruptcy is an important one, and should not be taken lightly. I have put together a list of bankruptcy questions that many of my clients have asked, and that every person thinking about bankruptcy should ask.
1. What are the benefits of a Chapter 7 compared to a Chapter 13?
I have heard from clients that some law firms ONLY handle chapter 7 bankruptcies. This can be a major disadvantage as a chapter 13 can discharge certain kinds of debts that are not dischargeable in a chapter 7, you can cramdown and avoid liens in a chapter 13, and you can pay back arrears in a chapter 13.
2. Do you do a lien search on my house?
A lien search can reveal whether or not you can strip any liens off your property, including homeowner’s and condo associations’ liens, tax liens, home equity lines of credit, and other liens. If your lawyer does not do that, it’s time to look for another lawyer.
3. Are you familiar with what each trustee wants?
Each trustee has their own preferences for what they want. Particularly in chapter 13 bankruptcies, an experienced attorney can let you know when a trustee request is unreasonable, and when it’s worth fighting with the trustee.
4. What debts are not dischargeable?
An experienced attorney should be able to advise you on what debts are and are not dischargeable. In my practice, I am very careful to let my clients know what they can and cannot expect from a bankruptcy and which debts will be discharged and which will not.
5. What about taxes?
Many bankruptcy law firms simply want to make money quickly and do not want to help you, and therefore, when it comes to questions of taxes, they will not want to get involved. In my practice, we conduct a tax analysis in each case to determine whether or not the taxes are dischargeable, whether or not they must be put into a chapter 13 payment plan, or whether or not the tax returns should be amended. We have close relationships with skilled tax attorneys and accountants to help you navigate this difficult area of the law.