Disclose all financial information to your bankruptcy lawyer.
Make sure when you visit with your bankruptcy lawyer to tell your lawyer about all your debts, assets, income, expenses. Your bankruptcy lawyer should be prepared with directed questions or a questionnaire to make sure nothing is missed. If you are unsure, ask your bankruptcy lawyer who should know how to handle your concern. If you are unwilling to disclose everything, you should not be filing for bankruptcy as there are severe penalties, denial of discharge, civil fines and criminal, for those who intentionally fail to disclose.
Carefully review the bankruptcy papers prepared by your lawyer.
Telling your bankruptcy lawyer is not enough. You must carefully review the bankruptcy papers your lawyer prepared with the information you gave. You sign these papers under oath and penalty of prejury, so make sure everyhing is disclosed. If you've hired a good bankruptcy lawyer, your papers should reflect the information you gave, but lawyers like all people are not perfect, so check those papers carefully for accuracy.
Get a contract from your bankruptcy lawyer,
Bankruptcy lawyers are required by law to provide you with a contract. A contract tells you exactly what the lawyer is going to do for you and at what cost to you. Make sure you get a contract when you hire the lawyer. Read it carefully and ask questions if something does not make sense. Some lawyers have flat fees while others charge by the hour. Become aware of what services, if any, the flat fee excludes. If your bankruptcy requires attendance at more than one meeting of creditors or if you are the subject of a targeted or random audit, does the flat fee include representation?
Your have to take two courses: Credit Counseling and Debtor Financial Management.
By now you may know that if you intend to file bankruptcy you have to obtain credit counseling beforehand. Your bankruptcy lawyer can provide you with the companies offering this counseling. After you complete the counseling you will receive a certificate. This certificate is good for 6 months. You will need to provide this to your bankruptcy lawyer.
After you file, you have to take a second course commonly called the Debtor Financial Management course. If you have a good bankruptcy lawyer, the lawyer will remind you of your obligation to take this second course after your case is filed. You cannot take this course before your bankruptcy is filed. If you do not file the certificate that you completed the course before your case is closed, you do not receive a discharge of your debts, at all. It can be expensive to fix this problem, so take the course as soon as your case is filed.
Providing your bankruptcy lawyer with documents.
You will be required to provide all kinds of documents to your bankruptcy lawyer, including, recorded mortgages and deeds, vehicle titles, tax returns, bills and collection letters, copies of paychecks and bank statements. A good bankruptcy lawyer will provide you with clear guidance on what is needed and when so as to avoid unnecessary duplication. Although it might take some effort on your part to provide these documents, it is well worth the effort, and if you provide complete documents in a timely manner, you will help your bankruptcy lawyer represent you in the most positive light.
Stop using credit cards and don't transfer property.
After you decide to file a bankruptcy you should not continue to use credit cards. If you do, you might be giving your creditors or the United States Trustee a reason to object your discharge or the dischargeability of your debt to a particular creditor.
After you decide to file a bankruptcy you should not transfer any property. Transfer includes gifting, selling, trading, or otherwise disposing of property, unless your bankruptcy lawyer has said it is okay to do so. In every case you should talk to your bankruptcy lawyer before making any transfers even if you don't think the transfer affects the bankruptcy. Bankruptcy law provides the trustee and your creditors with rights to challenge transfers as preferential or fraudulent even though those same transfers might have been perfectly legal outside of bankruptcy.
Know what property is protected in a Chapter 7 and what is not.
Most bankruptcy cases are "no-asset" cases. This means that the debtor does not lose any property. This is because the law affords to the debtor exemptions to protect certain property. For example, in Wisconsin, under Wisconsin exemptions, a debtor can protect up to $40,000 in equity in a homestead where the debtor resides. Other exemptions include exemptions for vehicles, household goods and furnishings, insurance polices and annuities, and bank accounts. A good bankruptcy lawyer will inform you before filing what is and is not protected by exemptions. If something is not protected, the trustee appointed to oversee your case will have the right to sell it and use the cash proceeds to pay your creditors. A good bankruptcy lawyer will also advise you on how to maximize your use of exemptions to protect your property. This is commonly referred to as asset planning and requires sound legal advise. It is illegal to engage in such planning for the purposes of defrauding creditors.
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