The Importance of Hiring a Bankruptcy Attorney in Phoenix
Whether you’re facing constant creditor harassment, your monthly payments have escalated beyond what you can juggle, or whatever other reason you’re considering bankruptcy, this is a serious matter and you should seek out the advice of a seasoned professional. Finding a lawyer you trust to handle your case can become its own ordeal, before your petition is even drafted or filed. The last thing you need to worry about while preparing for bankruptcy is if your lawyer is competent to handle your case. Read on for tips on how to find the bankruptcy attorney who is the best fit for you.
Where to Look For Bankruptcy Attorneys in Phoenix
If you are considering bankruptcy, you may have a friend or relative who can refer you to a reputable bankruptcy lawyer. You need an attorney who practices in your area, so don’t call referrals from different states unless you have recently moved. Or, you simply may not be comfortable discussing your bankruptcy with anyone besides a confidential and trustworthy professional.
Based on your income, you may qualify for assistance through your local legal aid organization. These organizations may also have referrals to low-cost bankruptcy attorneys. You can also check your local bar association, as well as the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and the National Association of Consumer Advocates, for referrals to reputable bankruptcy lawyers.
You should check online directories if you are interested in ratings and reviews from clients in situations similar to yours. Yelp and Google offer candid reviews of local businesses, while websites like Avvo, Nolo, LegalZoom, and lawyers.com specialize in lawyers.
Can I File Bankruptcy Without a Lawyer?
You may think your case will be simple enough that you can handle it yourself. Most bankruptcy lawyers will tell you honestly if your case is straightforward, or if you may just need the assistance of a document preparer.
However, filing bankruptcy pro se, or without an attorney, runs the risk of several negative consequences. These include:
- Non-exempt asset seizure
- Creditor harassment while preparing your case
- Incomplete petition and other documents
- Debts being excluded from discharge
- Trustee “clawbacks,” or taking back payments and gifts to friends and family members before your bankruptcy
- Extra fees
- Miscalculated Chapter 13 payment plan
- Required payment of your tax return to your bankruptcy trustee
You will also lose out on the advantages of hiring a bankruptcy attorney in Phoenix, like reviewing (versus drafting) your petition and representation at your 341 Meeting of Creditors. Approximately 1 in 3 Chapter 7 cases that are filed without an attorney are dismissed. The vast majority- more than 99%- of pro se Chapter 13 cases are dismissed. If you want the best chance of successfully discharging your debts in bankruptcy, you should do so with the advice, support, and guidance of an experienced Phoenix bankruptcy attorney.
What Questions Should I Ask a Bankruptcy Attorney Before Hiring?
- Are your consultations free? Do you offer them over the phone?
- How long have you been an attorney? How long have you been practicing bankruptcy? What other areas of law do you currently practice?
- Do you only file Chapter 7 cases, or do you offer Chapter 13 and other options as well?
- Do you have experience representing business owners?
- How much experience does your support staff have?
- How long do you estimate that my case will last?
- Are all my assets protected?
- Will the bankruptcy handle all liens on my assets?
- How will filing bankruptcy affect my loan cosigners?
- Do I have any options to protect my non-exempt assets?
- Do I qualify for the chapter I’m filing?
- Can you conduct my Means Test to calculate my disposable monthly income?
- Do I need to provide my credit report or will you obtain it yourself?
- Can you do an Emergency Filing? (For wage garnishments, repossessions, foreclosures, etc.)
- Who will be attending my 341 Meeting of Creditors with me?
- What will your office do if my case is dismissed?
- Should I have any concerns about preferential payments?
- What kind of effect can I expect on my credit?
- Do you have referrals to organizations that lend to bankruptcy clients after discharge?
- Will this impact my ability to rent an apartment? What can your office do?
- What should I tell creditors that call me after I retain your services?
- Do you have experience handling 707(b) objections?
- What are your fees? What will be my total cost for bankruptcy?
- Do you offer payment plans? Pre-filing or post-filing?
- What is the interest rate on your payment plans? Does it include credit reporting?
Other Considerations When Hiring a Phoenix Bankruptcy Attorney
Some attorneys assume that bankruptcy is relatively simple, but this is entirely untrue. Bankruptcy laws vary by state and chapter, and change every year. Bankruptcy isn’t a practice that an attorney can pick up overnight because a client needs it or there is an economic downturn. When you are in a tough financial situation, you don’t want to entrust it to some fly by night attorney. You want your case in the hands of an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy, and has done so for years.
You may be tempted to hire the attorney who will handle your case for the lowest fee, or gives you the best news about your assets and payments. This sounds great in the present, but can cost you thousands of dollars in the long run. While hiring the most expensive attorney won’t necessarily get you the best representation, hiring the cheapest may not always be the best option. These attorneys may be spread thin by a heavy caseload, or not have the experience to recognize potential pitfalls in your case.
Call our Experienced Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyers for Legal Assistance
Our Phoenix bankruptcy attorneys know it’s best to file when you feel comfortable and confident with your legal representation. We’re also confident that we offer top notch services at reasonable prices. That’s why we offer free consultations to our potential clients considering bankruptcy. To get a feel for our Phoenix based debt relief firm, as well as receive your quote for representation and payment plan options, contact us today to schedule your free consultation at (480) 833-8000.
PHOENIX BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEYS