The decision to hire a bankruptcy attorney can be a difficult one to make. When your finances have reached a point where you can no longer manage the payments, filing bankruptcy is a possible solution. The process may seem daunting but it doesn't have to be.
Knowing what to expect will reduce the stress involved and help you with making the decision.
All bankruptcy attorneys should offer a free initial consultation to you. This is the time to discuss the reasons why you feel bankruptcy is your only option as well as for the attorney to explain to you the process and decisions you will soon have to make. The attorney will explain to you what can not be included in the bankruptcy, which types of bankruptcy are available to you and what will happen to any property or financial accounts that do remain in your name. This is the time to ask all the questions you have. The information you gather during this initial meeting should be used to make your decision after you have left the office.
The decision to file bankruptcy should not be taken lightly. It may provide financial relief by reducing the amount of debt you owe but it will reflect negatively on your credit report for years. It is important to weigh your options completely before proceeding.
After you have made the decision to proceed with bankruptcy, you will find to hire the attorney by paying them a retainer fee. This amount can vary but the average is $500. (If you live in the area, there is a San Diego bankruptcy firm whose retainer is just $100.) Once you have retained an attorney, the calls from creditors will decrease as you go through the process.
Changes in bankruptcy laws now require everyone filing bankruptcy to attend credit counseling and financial management classes before the final hearing where debt is officially discharged. The process takes between 6 months to one year.
Filing for bankruptcy is a complex process. It is important to find a knowledgeable and helpful bankruptcy attorney to support you in this process. You should meet with more than one to be sure you are working with the attorney who demonstrates the most confidence, experience and education.