Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and the Decision to File

When you find yourself unable to pay your bills and unable to get through a meal at home or a television show without a phone call from a collection agent, it’s time to take serious action. You may have thought about bankruptcy, perhaps you’ve done some research on the internet. But you have a reason to stop short of picking up the phone and calling a bankruptcy attorney to take that first step.Just what is that first step?The first step is easier than you might have thought. Simply call a bankruptcy attorney (there are plenty, so it’s easy to find one close by) and set up an appointment for a consultation. Every bankruptcy attorney offers potential clients a free consultation. This is your opportunity to spend some time with a bankruptcy professional who can answer your questions and help you see more clearly what your options may be.Most of the people I’ve spoken with about this have told me that they have spoken with friends, relative, their mechanic, plumber, and 3rd cousin about bankruptcy. Unless their friends, relatives, and third cousins are also practicing bankruptcy attorneys, it would be a fair assumption that the information they impart is far from accurate.After many years of working with people in all areas of the debt relief industry, I’ve come to understand a few of the many reasons that people postpone contacting the one resource that can actually provide useful information. What I’ve discovered above all, is that a great number of people don’t make that first call to a bankruptcy attorney because they think if they could afford to file bankruptcy, they wouldn’t have a problem in the first place. Where would this kind of assumption come from? I think it might have come from a friend, relative, or third cousin.Most bankruptcy attorneys who are experienced in consumer law and consumer bankruptcy understand the financial dilemma that their clients are facing. Therefore, they will almost always work with clients on a payment basis. Filing bankruptcy is not like getting a driver’s license. The simplest of bankruptcies is an extremely complex process with a massive amount of paperwork that must be generated.Your bankruptcy attorney, whether you are filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy or chapter 13 bankruptcy, will be able to start working on your case with a reasonable down-payment for the total retainer. When you meet with your bankruptcy lawyer for your free consultation, once they have established the fee for the bankruptcy filing let the attorney know that you will have to satisfy their retainer in payments. Be clear about how much you can afford and how long it will take you to pay the full amount. Be realistic about this; don’t expect to stretch payments out over an extended period of time. A chapter 7 bankruptcy can take three to four months to complete, a chapter 13 bankruptcy can take considerably longer.If the bankruptcy attorney is unable to accommodate you, assuming that your payment schedule proposal is reasonable, find another attorney. There is no point is trying to haggle with an attorney about his or her fee. The quality of a bankruptcy attorney cannot be measured by the amount of their retainer. It’s rare that any two attorneys would charge the same amount for filing bankruptcy. The attorney’s fee is not nearly as important as how you “feel” about working with a particular attorney. Your bankruptcy attorney will be working with you, and perhaps your spouse, in an area of your life that you hold very closely. It only makes sense that your bankruptcy attorney is someone that you are completely comfortable with and able to trust with your most critical personal financial information.If you’re waiting to find out just how much a bankruptcy filing will cost, I’m afraid that I will have to disappoint you. That’s a topic for another article; however, very few if any attorneys will discuss their fee for bankruptcy over the phone. There are many good reasons for that, most importantly, no two bankruptcy cases are the same. The fact is that asking an attorney how much his retainer will be prior to the bankruptcy attorney having an opportunity to review all the particulars of your case, is much the same as telling your doctor that your arm hurts and then asking the doctor what he or she will have to do to make it stop hurting.The point is that if you insist on not scheduling a meeting with a bankruptcy attorney until you find one that will commit to a “price” is not going to help you get relief from the creditors and collectors that will continue to harass you. If you wait too long, you will likely find yourself in court with any one of your creditors.If you are struggling with debt, and the situation gets more out of hand with passing time, you owe it to yourself to find out if bankruptcy is the right choice. Most people who have filed bankruptcy will tell you that they wish they would have done it sooner.

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