Why a Free Consultation Is Important in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

When a potential client calls my office to ask bankruptcy-related questions, I usually suggest that he or she come in for a free initial consultation.  I also ask that when we meet, you bring  your bills, tax returns, pay stubs and any other documents that may be related to your situation.  The reason I ask for such documents is to assess your overall financial picture and to come up with possible solutions to existing problems.

At the consultation, I ask questions to find out what assets are owned by the potential client and also what their debts are.  Depending on the responses I receive, I ask follow-up questions about the issues that may determine the course of action:

1. Recent significant use of credit cards/balance transfers/cash advances;
2. Transfers of property to third parties without payment or adequate consideration;
3. Values of assets which may exceed applicable New York exemptions in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and may force a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing instead;
4. The level of household income to make sure that the client can meet the means test and file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy;
5. Whether the debtor recently repaid a debt to a relative or friend which may be a preference;
6. Whether the debtor has a personal injury lawsuit pending, or the right to bring such lawsuit;
7. Whether the debtor had any prior bankruptcy filings;
8. Whether the debtor owes any non-dischargeable debts, such as student loansmaintenance and child support, and some income taxes;
9. Debts incurred as a result of fraudulent conduct or drunk-driving.

After I ask all of these questions, I am able to recommend the course of conduct for the debtor.  I typically will explain if the bankruptcy a good option; what are its costs; and how a typical bankruptcy gets prepared, filed and proceeds in bankruptcy court.  If a bankruptcy is likely to solve debtor’s problems, I will discuss which type of bankruptcy is available and what are the advantages and disadvantages of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

In the event you decide to proceed with a bankruptcy filing, I will ask you to sign a retainer agreement. You will leave my office with a bankruptcy questionnaire which will ask you to provide information on your income, expenses, assets and liabilities.  I will also provide you with a checklist of the documents I am going to need to prepare your petition and file your bankruptcy, including paystubs and tax returns.  In addition, I will provide you with a list of organizations providing consumer credit counseling course, so you can meet pre-filing requirements.

I will also tell you how to deal with continuing phone calls from your creditors.  There are times when I am not able to answer every questions, and may ask for additional documents to figure out the debtor’s circumstances.  I believe that the free consultation benefits both me and the potential client.

If you are dealing with debt problems in Western New York, including Rochester, Canandaigua, Brighton, Pittsford, Penfield, Perinton, Fairport, Webster, Victor, Farmington, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Parma, Brockport, Spencerport, LeRoy, Chili, Churchville, Monroe County, Ontario County, Wayne County, Orleans County, Livingston County, and being harassed by bill collectors, and would like to know more about how bankruptcy may be able to help you, contact me today by phone or email to schedule a FREE initial consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer.

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