Many people in need of legal advice concerning financial problems and the possibility of filing bankruptcy understandably want to get it done as cheaply and efficiently as possible. In today’s world of easy internet access, many of us take it upon ourselves to research answers online to become educated on the benefits and pitfalls of different solutions out there, and then look for the least expensive way to proceed. If you are under financial duress, you are probably doing this quickly and without much investigation.
People today go online for everything from shopping for daily goods and services to becoming more educated about a topic. Sadly, the internet is bursting with spam and marketing mumbo jumbo. It has become very difficult to find honest and accurate information from websites and articles to get the real information you may desperately need to make the right decision. The lines between reality/truth and marketing hype/false promises becomes blurrier all the time. This also happens when you are looking for a bankruptcy attorney to advise you on the best course of action for you.
How are you going to find the correct information about whether bankruptcy is right for you and who is the best attorney to help you navigate the process? Here are some tips:
Don’t just go with the result from your Google search. The best source of online information you can receive is by taking some time to review the attorney’s website and finding out what they have to say. Has the attorney written articles addressing real issues and are they detailed enough for you to have a solid understanding of the process? Contact the attorney and send in requests for more information if you need it. A good firm law firm will happily answer your questions and will respond quickly, usually within hours.
If not, BEWARE! There are several companies that offer “bankruptcy services” from their “team of expert bankruptcy attorneys” that are located outside of Michigan. In fact, searching the internet “cheap bankruptcy attorney” will often result in several hits for companies that are lead-generation businesses who sell your personal information to local attorneys who likely don’t specialize in bankruptcy law. Check out where the lead-generation “bankruptcy services” company is PHYSICALLY located. Is it in Chicago, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City? If so, this isn’t for you! Stay away from any attorney who doesn’t have a physical office near you.
Finally, don’t take the bait that “we have local attorneys in your location” to represent you. That technically may be true (that they’ll sporadically contract-hire a local attorney for minimal work and to sign their name on the documents), but it’s not what you think it is. And, what is ultimately shocking is that these lead-generation businesses are ultimately more expensive!
Bankruptcy law requires a lot of “due diligence.” This means your bankruptcy attorney and their staff must know all the relevant facts about your case and needs to have confidence in the information contained in your bankruptcy forms. When you sign your bankruptcy forms you are doing so under oath, subject to penalty of perjury. A good bankruptcy attorney should ask you for six (6) months of all bank statements (including PayPal, Venmo, etc.), 2 years of tax returns, and six (6) months of paystubs. You should have constant contact with your bankruptcy attorney and the firm’s staff throughout the case, and they should be asking you questions too! If they don’t, do not just trust that everything is going to be fine. Small details matter with bankruptcy documents and bankruptcy filings are scrutinized by multiple officials. You must receive a draft copy of your bankruptcy documents BEFORE you meet with the attorney to sign them. Since Covid-19, many attorneys are using electronic signatures and telephonic appointments. This means that receiving a draft of your bankruptcy papers is critical!
Ask difficult questions and ask the attorney to answer your question to your satisfaction, and follow up where needed. Often the most honest and correct answer is complicated, and the attorney should explain why the outcome may vary and the reasons for what may or may not happen in your case. You should fully understand what the issues are and how they may affect you. You need to feel comfortable and have a good understanding of the whole picture. There really are no cookie-cutter cases and ignorance is not an excuse when you file for bankruptcy, especially if you are represented by an attorney. If an attorney is offended that you want a second opinion, you have your answer.
Unless a firm or the lawyer is part of a low-income assistance program, it is difficult to get an attorney who is “cheap” and “good.” Ask yourself: How can a “cheap” attorney do important legal analysis, due-diligence work, scan documents, audit bank statements and pay stubs, prepare bankruptcy pleadings, go over numerous questions and documents with you, communicate with creditors and their attorneys, talk to Bankruptcy Court personnel and Trustees, attend hearings, and have time available for all their clients at little to no cost? The answer is they can’t! A “cheap” attorney will do as few of those critical tasks as possible and can have potentially very harmful results. The old adage “you get what you pay for” really applies when selecting a bankruptcy attorney. Choosing to pay a little extra for an attorney to help you regain financial health is worth it.
Like most important things in life, cutting corners often ends poorly and will be more expensive in the long run. Doing things the right way from the beginning is the least expensive option. Do your research and choose what is best for you. Contact the experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at Gold, Lange, Majoros & Smalarz, P.C. today!
Bankruptcy can be a valuable tool for individuals and businesses looking to get out from under insurmountable debt to get a fresh start. The Bankruptcy Code consists of five distinct types of bankruptcy for individuals and businesses for debts owed in the United States (the sixth, Chapter 9, is only available to municipalities to reorganize […]
Many people in need of legal advice concerning financial problems and the possibility of filing bankruptcy understandably want to get it done as cheaply and efficiently as possible. In today’s world of easy internet access, many of us take it upon ourselves to research answers online to become educated on the benefits and pitfalls of […]