If you have tried every way imaginable to avoid bankruptcy but find that you have no other way out of the situation, the first step you should take before filing is to consult with a bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy attorney can be hired or appointed by the court systems to help you through the court proceedings. If you decide to select your own attorney, make sure to select someone with previous experience in bankruptcy law, preferably someone who works specifically with bankruptcy.
No matter which bankruptcy attorney you select, you should always be prepared to ask the attorney questions regarding your own case. Here is a list of questions you should always ask your attorney to make yourself more aware of your bankruptcy proceedings:
* What type of bankruptcy is right for me?
Keep in mind that the Federal court system in the United States has eight different types of bankruptcy filing available. Of course the two most popular are Chapter 13 and Chapter 7, but there are a variety of different details and rules that apply to each type of filing. A good bankruptcy attorney will be able to sift through your financial difficulties and recommend the best type of bankruptcy for you.
* How do I file for bankruptcy?
Filing for bankruptcy will need to be done in the state where you currently live. If you plan to remain represented by a bankruptcy attorney, their legal staff can help to prepare all of the paperwork that is necessary to present to the court system. If you simply want to use the bankruptcy attorney for a consultation, make sure you don't leave the attorney's office without the necessary paperwork to begin the bankruptcy process.
* What type of fees will I owe?
This is important to ask in regards to your bankruptcy attorney as well as the court system. Most bankruptcy attorneys will give a free consultation but any remaining time on the proceeding or in court will cost a fee. Some attorneys charge by the hour while others charge a flat fee for bankruptcy services. As well, the court systems usually charge a court fee connected with filing the case, administrative charges and extra Chapter 7 fees to pay a trustee in charge of the bankrupt account.
* Where do I go to file my bankruptcy claim?
Bankruptcy cases are handled by the federal court systems in every state. This usually means that the bankrupt party will need to give the bankruptcy paperwork to the state courthouse, usually in a state's capitol city. Your bankruptcy attorney should know the address and rules regarding whether or not paperwork can be sent by mail or if paperwork needs to be given in person.
* What happens after filing for bankruptcy?
Immediately after filing for bankruptcy, the court system will send out notification to creditors of the pending bankruptcy case. From this point on, creditors are considered to have a "restraining order" by the debtor and are not allowed to contact the debtor requesting payment. Depending on the type of bankruptcy, a hearing will be scheduled and deadlines will be set for creditors to file a claim and attend the hearing. Of course, all of the proceedings from here are dependent on the type of bankruptcy filed, so it is important to be in contact with your bankruptcy attorney who can more readily answer these questions.