What Can A Prospective Bankruptcy Client Expect When They Come To Your Office?
When they enter my office they are going to be met by our friendly staff who will greet them and ask them if they want anything and our staff basically starts the whole process off. They have them fill in the information sheet, they sit down with them and do that. Then they start gathering documents that the attorney will need and once they are actually finished with our paralegals or our staff members, then they’ll actually meet with an attorney. At our office, every person meets with an attorney which is not always the case in other offices. A lot of offices just have the paralegals do all the work and then the attorney comes in and weighs too low and then asks a couple of questions but in our office they do sit down with the attorney and the attorney is the one who prepares their paperwork, goes through their means test with them, goes through their personal property, their income and everything.
What Is The Attorney Client Relationship Like When It Comes To Your Office?
In the beginning, you speak with the attorney a lot. You meet the attorney and follow up conversations in order to get your case filed and any kind of work that we have to do pretty much right after the case is filed which will be on a case by case basis. Sometimes we have to file immediate motions for different reasons, sometimes we have to work and help get a car back from repossession etc. so it really is on a case by case basis. Then there is a stagnant period where unless there is a problem we don’t have any communication with the client although they are free to call us with questions or problems or anything like that. Then the attorney meets them again at the 341 meeting and then goes through the meeting with them.
At the hearing the attorney follows up with any amendments that need to be made. After the hearing, if there are any problems that the attorney needs to discuss with their client but depending on if it’s a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13, in a Chapter 7 we just get a discharge and afterwards if there are any problems the debtor has related to the bankruptcy they can obviously call their attorney. In a Chapter 13 we know our clients more because sometimes we are endeavoring to know them for the next 5 years from when they meet us the first time if they are doing a Chapter 13. So our relationship could be anywhere from 3 to 5 years with any follow up. It depends on the circumstances.
I had a client who called yesterday about a 2014 case and now he is meeting with me because he has some problems that need to be addressed. So it could be a very long relationship or a very short relationship.
Can You Talk About The Stigma Associated With Filing For Bankruptcy?
Just the public perception of bankruptcy has always been frowned upon. People tend to feel like failures because they didn’t try hard enough to pay back their creditors. A lot of times people that file bankruptcy are trying to get away from paying their creditors because they don’t want to or they are not using their money wisely to pay their creditors, they use credit with no intention to repay, they are defrauding the creditors, so there is a lot of stigma. We find people come into our office and all of a sudden they are apologizing to us for being in debt. Our job, being attorneys is not to charge people, our job is to find solutions for the client and alleviate their financial problems.
Why Is It Important To Find An Attorney Who Is Sympathetic To Someone’s Bankruptcy Situation?
I think people who want to file for bankruptcy should always hire an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy because it’s such a complicated process and there are just so many procedural deadlines and procedural aspects to it that it could go really bad if you don’t know what you are doing. I think somebody should come to a sympathetic office just so they have peace of mind. We assure them that there is no judgment on our behalf and potentially this could be the best thing they do in their life to get a fresh start which is the whole concept of bankruptcy. It’s to obtain a fresh start so they can move forward.
What Should People Bring When They Come Into Your Office For An Initial Consultation?
The most important thing that we need is the last 60 days or more of their income statement and then they need to supplement anything that can’t be found on their credit report such as medical bills, doctor bills or any kind of debt that they have. If they are involved in some sort of legal proceedings, we would need the paperwork on the legal proceedings. You can never be too prepared. If they bring any paperwork that just doesn’t apply, we won’t use it. If people are unemployed they don’t think about bringing their unemployment statement, social security people need to bring their award letter that they got from the Federal government stating how much they will make. If they are married and they are the only person going to file bankruptcy, they are going to need their spouse’s income and any other income that might be in the household.
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