You’ve finally taken the leap to change your financial future through bankruptcy, but now there is a huge question mark in your mind about what happens next? Maybe you are beginning the research phase of making a decision, and you just want to know the basic details of filing for bankruptcy.
The bankruptcy process can be overwhelming, but knowing what you will need to do ahead of time can alleviate some of the stress and reduce fear of the unknown. In this article our attorney lays out 5 of the most important factors that are “Need to Know” about the bankruptcy process.
- You will have LOTS of paperwork. Once you retain an attorney, they will give you packets of questionnaires that you will have to complete. Why can’t your attorney do this for you? Because it is your financial information. You are required to be honest and upfront about what is going on with your finances. Your attorney cannot complete the paperwork for you, and he or she won’t be able to file your case at all if the paperwork is incomplete or inaccurate. The best way to handle all the paperwork is to set aside 3-4 hours of time on an evening or weekend and focus on answering each question to the best of your ability.
- You will need to provide documentation. The questionnaires that you filled out are necessary for the attorney to evaluate your financial information. But because you are dealing with a court case (bankruptcy is a court proceeding), proof must be available for all financial statements. Your paystubs or income statements, State and Federal taxes, and vehicle insurance information are just a few of the documents required by the court. Your attorney will give you a list of the documents that you will need to provide. If you are thinking about speaking with an attorney about bankruptcy anytime in the next few months, it would be a good idea to start gathering these documents now to save yourself the frantic stress later!
- You may get discounts on your attorney fees. Sometimes your attorney may offer a discount if you do certain things that make the attorney’s job easier. A good example is if you complete all your paperwork and provide your documents sooner than requested. This makes the attorney’s job easier because they don’t need to wait on you for information. A compassionate attorney will often give you a discount for this. You might also get a discount if you are able to pay your total attorney fee up front, or within a few weeks. Attorneys always appreciate this because they won’t be holding your file in limbo while they wait for your payment. Keep in mind that discounts are often based off your situation. For example, if you have an emergency situation and your attorney has to complete your file very rapidly, you will most likely not get a discount because the attorney is pushing your file ahead of any other clients.
- Your bankruptcy can take a few weeks to be filed. Many bankruptcy clients think that if they paid their fees up front, then the bankruptcy should be filed immediately. However, you will still have to complete the worksheets and provide the necessary documents. Once you have provided all the necessary information, unless there is a drastic emergency, such as foreclosure or repossessed vehicle, a complete bankruptcy petition will still have to be prepared. Your attorney will also have other matters that demand their attention, like Court hearings. Your appointments will be scheduled according to your availability and the attorney’s availability. If you have an emergency, like a foreclosure or repossessed vehicle, your attorney may be able to file a partial petition but that normally will cost you more upfront. The bottom line is, be patient. Just like your debt was not accumulated overnight, your bankruptcy will not be completed overnight (in most situations).
- You don’t have to be stressed. Just the thought of bankruptcy causes endless amounts of anxiety for some people. If you have done your research and hired the right attorney, your stress can be left at the attorney’s door. As long as you are doing exactly what the attorney tells you, you are providing every document and you have made all the necessary payments, there is no reason for you to continue worrying. A good attorney will handle everything in a timely manner and will keep you informed through every step of the process. The key is to do your research. Find an attorney with excellent reviews and proven case results, so you can see exactly what other people in your situation thought of that attorney.
Attorney Pfeiffer has been practicing bankruptcy law in Hampton Roads for 20 years and has helped thousands of clients through the process. Her testimonials are in multiple places online, including AVVO, Google, and Facebook. Client case results are updated frequently as well. For free consultation information, or to request additional information before making a decision, please contact us!