What to Look For in a Bankruptcy Attorney and How to Find One

Nobody wants to think about bankruptcy, but in these economic times, it may be a necessity for many. Although it may be painful to have to file for bankruptcy, but choosing the wrong attorney can make it even worse. The following are some tips on what to look and what to avoid when choosing a bankruptcy attorney.

Stay Away from Storefront Operations

If bankruptcy is imminent, then time is of the essence. Avoid the fly by night operations that advertise bankruptcy services at ridiculously low prices. Not only are these places likely to mishandle a bankruptcy, but added fees and services will make it much more costly than originally advertised. Look for a legitimate attorney that has years of experience in the field. It will be more expensive, but the bankruptcy will be properly filed and handled, which will save money, not to mention headaches in the long run.

Licensing

As with choosing a doctor, a good bankruptcy attorney should be licensed by the state bar. If they are not, then they are not authorized to practice law in that state. The state bar can provide licensing information, as well as any disciplinary action regarding an attorney.

Check with Agencies

There are agencies and organizations that have either worked with bankruptcy attorneys, or have knowledge of their experience. The American Bankruptcy Institute is a good place to start. The ABI is an organization the even Congress taps for their expertise. They may have information, or even members that are available for bankruptcy proceedings. Members of the ABI have had to meet additional standards beyond what the average bankruptcy attorney has met.

Legal Aid

Local legal aid organizations may be able to assist in finding a good attorney as well. In all likelihood they have worked with bankruptcy attorneys in the past and may be able to recommend someone suitable for a particular case.

Visit Different Attorneys

Many attorneys offer free or low-cost initial consultations. This is an opportunity to talk to the prospective attorney and assess if they are the right one for the job. Have a list of questions ready to ask the prospective attorney. Here are a few standard questions for any bankruptcy attorney. These certainly are not the only questions a bankruptcy attorney should be asked, they are a good starting point.

1. How many bankruptcies do you handle in a year? Will you have ample time for my case?
2. Will I be working with the attorney or an office paralegal most of the time? How much access will I have?
3. What is the process exactly?
4. How long will the process take?

Most attorneys will be happy to answer these questions. Those that will not, or give evasive answers are most likely too busy or inexperienced, and another attorney should be interviewed.

Bankruptcy is an unpleasant experience, but a good attorney can help mitigate some of the pain. Remember, many bankruptcies are little more than a restructuring, so it is not necessarily the end of the world. A poor attorney can make it seem that way though. Do the research, find a good attorney, and stay on top of the proceedings. Even the best attorneys can miss something, such as leaving out a particular creditor, so stay involved and request updates frequently. Working interactively with a good attorney will make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Find A Personal Bankruptcy Attorney That Works Well With You

Having crippling debt and the stress that goes along with it is not fun. That’s why so many people are choosing bankruptcy to eliminate their debt. When filing for bankruptcy there are many costs that are involved. A bankruptcy attorney will be the largest portion that you have to spend to file. When hiring a bankruptcy attorney, consult with a few of them so you have an idea of the dynamics of the law office and if it will work for you. Make sure to get the estimated costs and fees in writing and ask questions what the additional costs that you might incur would be. Usually, filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in most cases it is just a flat fee because they’re pretty straightforward. If you think you might need to file a Chapter 13 the costs will be a lot higher. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy the attorney has to negotiate with the bankruptcy trustee and creditors to work out a 3 to 5 year payment plan. Most attorneys allow their legal fees to be included in the reorganization plan to be paid over time. Other costs that a bankruptcy filer needs to consider is the filing fee that is paid to the court and the pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course and the post financial management course. These courses usually run between $30-$50 and can be taken easily online.

When deciding on which bankruptcy attorney to hire, educate yourself on the filing process so you can ask appropriate questions. Usually, attorneys will want a retainer fee to get started on your personal bankruptcy petition. When filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, attorneys will want to be paid in full before filing the petition with the court. The attorney fees for a Chapter 7 are usually nominal as most cases are usually completed quickly and easily. With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy the fees can be double of what you might pay for Chapter 7 because of the time spent and the complexity. Whatever the chapter of personal bankruptcy you’re filing, always ask for a list of charges upfront so there is no surprises halfway through your case.

Most people in the process of filing personal bankruptcy don’t have very much money set aside to hire a bankruptcy attorney, but if you consider the amount of debt you’re walking from the fee you have to pay seems more reasonable. Attorney prices vary from state to state and even office to office, that’s why it’s important if you’re on a strict budget to check around and get the best legal counsel for the amount you can afford. There was a spike in fees after the law changed in 2005. Most attorneys raised their fees due to the added amount of work and time it takes to complete a petition. There a lot of legal professionals out there today advertising extremely low prices and people need to beware and check references to make sure the attorney you hire is not a personal injury attorney that’s just jumping on the bankruptcy bandwagon.

Every state in the US has their own exemptions under the bankruptcy law and some districts even control the amount on what a personal bankruptcy attorney or paralegal can charge for preparing the document. With a Chapter 13, the trustee is more likely to scrutinize what an attorney is charging the debtor. Recently, there have been cases were the trustee has thought that the bankruptcy attorney or the document preparer has charged too much and will ask for the money to be returned to the debtor. Some states are more strict than others, so it really depends on where the debtor lives. When filing for bankruptcy check the local court website or even call the court and ask if there’s any restrictions on the amount a bankruptcy attorney or preparer can charge. This will give you a good idea of what you’re going to have to pay.

Earnest Money Deposit Explained

An earnest money deposit is paid in the form of a check to the seller and is accompanied by the offer to purchase a piece of property. Its purpose is to demonstrate good faith that the buyer is willing to make an immediate investment, which is often referred to as, good faith. Often, the agent will deliver a copy of the check to the seller and hold onto the original until the seller agrees to the terms of the agreement offered. Then the check is released to escrow.

The earnest money deposit is often used as part of the down payment. For example: Let’s say that you are buying a house for $100,000 and you have an FHA loan. Your deposit will most likely be $1,000, which is 1% of the purchase price of the property and it will go toward your total FHA loan, which is 3.5%, or $3,500. So you can take the required $3,500 down payment and subtract the deposit you’ve already given when you submitted the offer and now only owe $2,500, which is the difference.

Whenever you meet up with a real estate agent, it’s always a wise idea to bring at least one check with you. Even though checks are starting to become an obsolete way of transferring funds, they are still widely used in real estate for proof of the initial deposit. If you do not have checks, you may be able to obtain some by contacting your bank in a short period of time. The sooner you do so, the better.

The earnest money deposit, for the most part, seems to hold a more symbolic gesture of good faith than the actual necessity of the payment. However, should you open up an escrow and then back out without a justifiable excuse, your earnest money deposit will be lost. Before you go into escrow on a house, or even put in an offer for that matter, be sure that you will be happy with that particular home before you open escrow and realize you may have made a mistake.