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Finding the Right Bankruptcy Attorney

These days, the Internet makes finding bankruptcy attorneys really easy; they can look them up on Google or look at attorney reviews on Yelp or any number of other websites. Sometimes, finding someone the old-fashioned way works, too; many of my clients ask for references and some clients are willing and happy to tell people about me and how I represented them. The best way to choose the right attorney would be to just do their homework.

What Should Someone Bring To Their Initial Consultation?

At the first meeting, I always tell my clients to bring me an idea of who they owe money to and what it was for, as well as a pay stub or some sort of proof of income. This is so that I can get an idea of their level of debt and their income level which is necessary if I am to give them honest answers regarding their options. During the initial consultation, I give them a rough idea on of their plan and give them an idea of what the case will look like and their chances for success.

When it comes time to actually prosecute the case, I give my client a questionnaire I have designed, which takes about an hour to fill out, and then providing them a document production sheet which essentially asks the client to provide pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, proof of car insurance, car loan statements, copies of vehicle registrations and any other documents the trustee will need. Once I have all this information and documentation, I then can competently and accurately prosecute the case and get it confirmed.

Chapter 13 cases usually turn out pretty well. Recently, I had a case involving a woman with a couple of car loans, a timeshare, IRS debt, credit card debt. When we added up all of those payments, it came to more than $2,000 per month. But when we consolidated everything and she gave the timeshare and one car back and got rid of her credit card debts, she ended up paying just $700 a month for the whole thing. It was a godsend to her as she had been stressing out and having a hard time. But as a result of filing under Chapter 13, she was a lot happier and she got back a great quality of life.

The first thing to do if you decide to file Chapter 13 is to hire a qualified bankruptcy attorney, but make sure you tell them everything. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I do not find many things difficult, but the exception to that comes when a client does not disclose all of their debts and all of their income. This is a particular problem with self-employed people.

How Long Does The Process Take?

A lot of the time the relief comes immediately. The biggest impediment to filing a case immediately is that the consumer has to comply with the credit counseling requirement which requires them to take an online class which can take a few hours. However, as soon as that is completed, I can usually have a case filed within about 30 minutes. I have had people come to my office at 2:00 p.m. because they faced a foreclosure sale at 10:00 a.m. the next morning, and have the case filed and notify the foreclosure agent by 3 p.m., thus stopping the foreclosure sale. I will get a case filed as quickly as is needed to save a person’s car, house or whatever.

Is It Possible to Get An Extension Under Chapter 13?

One of the great things about Chapter 13 is that if the person filing has three years to go on their car loan with payments of $500 a month which they cannot afford, under Chapter 13 they can spread that out over 60 months and only have to pay around $300 per month. Chapter 13 gives debtors a chance to create a repayment plan of up to 60 months. This is still a good thing because before filing their budget was probably out of control and this gives them a chance to pay just what they can afford every month which will make life a lot easier.

I have handled cases in which people were paying $1,200-$1,500 per month in payments, and I was able to consolidate all of the debts and get them down to $300-$500 per month while still keeping all of their possessions. Chapter 13 works really well for someone with competent representation.

For more information on Handling Chapter 13 Through An Attorney, a free initial consultation is your best next step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (858) 278-2800today.

San Diego Bankruptcy Guide by Steven Bliss

Bankruptcy Basics
In California

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