When evaluating someone’s financial situation, use an outline of questions that come from years of experience in helping people with bankruptcy. Through these questions, I’m looking to see if you will have an effective bankruptcy and how we might move forward if it looks like bankruptcy is the right choice for you.
The first thing I’m going to ask is: Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?
This is an essential question because people can only file for these protections once every six to eight years. If you have previously filed for bankruptcy, I need to know when.
The next question I ask is: What kind of debt do you have?
I can provide clients with a lot of support for matters of personal debt, but bankruptcy doesn’t offer relief for just any kind of debt. For example, if you’re calling me because you can’t afford your child support, I’m not going to be able to help because bankruptcy won’t address your obligation to make those payments. Similarly, if you’re calling about student loans, I’ll see what I can do for you, but most likely, there’s not a lot of relief that bankruptcy will provide.
Next, I will ask: What does your income look like?
I need to have a picture of this for two reasons:
- To see whether you’ll qualify for a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 filing.
- To have an idea of what you can and can’t afford.
With this information, I can let you know if you can afford to get out of debt without filing for bankruptcy. Also, knowing a client’s income will help me adequately advise you as we move through each step of the process.
Next, I need to find out: What are your assets?
A considerable part of planning your bankruptcy is finding out whether you can protect your assets. If you can’t protect your assets from the filing process, you may lose them or you will have to pay to keep them.
There are two main types of assets that we focus on in bankruptcy cases… so there are two more questions I’ll ask under this subject:
Do you own a home?
If you own your home outright, we’ll be able to protect it from the bankruptcy process 95% of the time. However, protecting your home will also limit what other assets we can defend.
Do you have a car?
If you do have a car, do you make car payments or own the vehicle outright? Do you have equity in the car? In recent years, when car values have increased dramatically, it’s important to know the answers to these questions because you could easily lose your car if you’re not careful.
Finally, it’s important to ask any question that will be asked of you at the meeting that you will eventually have with the bankruptcy trustee. This includes:
Do you own any stocks, bonds, or other investments?
Are there any situations in play that I wouldn’t immediately know about?
Are you in the process of suing someone or being sued by someone?
Have you sold any major assets recently?
Have you inherited anything recently, or do you expect an inheritance anytime soon?
These are all critical questions. The more I ask upfront, the better idea I’ll have of how your case will operate and how to mitigate any of the problems that we might encounter down the road.
One last thing to keep in mind here: Only some attorneys ask you these questions in your initial consultation. In fact, most attorneys will only try to get you in their office for a consultation to sell their services to you. Whoever you interview, you should know this ahead of time so you don’t wind up making a decision that isn’t actually in your best interest.
At the end of the day, I’m not trying to sell you – my goal is to find out if I can help you. If I can help you, that’s fantastic… but If I can’t help you, I see it as my responsibility to let you know as soon as possible so you can figure out what to do next.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Bankruptcy Law Cases In Florida, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy. For more information on Evaluating Someone’s Financial Situation, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you seek today by calling (407) 305-5599.