Money has been a well protected asset since it was first minted by the government in 1792. Over time, we have increased our precaution measures. Today we have hiding places for our socks of cash, fireproof safes for our valuables, and security questions for our online banking. While money has always been protected, security precautions are especially prevalent during the current economic recession. We are eating out less, entertaining in more, and waiting for sales because we are learning the value of a dollar. Unfortunately, some of us had to learn the value of a dollar the hard way. We are burdened with debt and are ever finding ourselves owing money for rent, running out of groceries, and needing to pay off another loan. If you are in debt, and are considering giving yourself a fresh start by declaring bankruptcy, be sure you put your financial future in the hands of those with these must have qualities.
1. Experience - This quality may sound general and obvious, but it is especially necessary when finding a bankruptcy attorney. The law is ever complicated and ever frustrating. Combine it with the stress and emotion that comes with debt, and you'll find you have a situation no one wants to be in. Get yourself out of this situation by finding an attorney who has successfully gotten people out of debt before. You need an attorney who is not afraid of your financial situation, who has successfully dealt with worse, and who is prepared to guide you through the bankruptcy declaration process.
2. Good with Paperwork - Most of us don't read the fine print and when we do, we don't know what it means or how it will affect us. A good bankruptcy attorney will know exactly what it means, precisely what you should sign and specifically what you need to fill out. While every industry has its jargon, there are few phrases more confusing than those connected with law and finances. Get an attorney who has read the paperwork thousands of times, has written paperwork of their own, and can protect you from being overburdened by a mass of words you don't understand.
3. Honest - While the majority of attorneys and lawyers do not fit their stereotype of being dishonest, there are those that do. When dealing with the law, it is essential that you be honest. Thus, it is essential that your attorney be honest. You wouldn't hand your social security number to a known identity thief, so don't hand your financial affairs to a dishonest bankruptcy lawyer. You need an attorney that will not only be honest with the law, but that will also be honest with you. You need an attorney who will honestly tell you what your situation is and what you stand to gain/ lose with their representation or without it.
4. Good with Words - History has shown that the art of language is one that can make or break a deal, change a judge's verdict, and determine financial outcome. When choosing a bankruptcy attorney, choose one who can speak the legal language and represent you properly. Choose an attorney who is able to take your situation and present it in a way that will give you the best outcome possible and bring you to a fresh start.
5. Up-to-date on Laws - While bankruptcy law hasn't changed since 2005, there is always a possibility that the law will change again. It is important that your bankruptcy attorney be aware of the various schools of thought on bankruptcy and the research behind that thought. Being aware of current opinions and potential changes is a vital part of representing clients correctly. Be sure that your attorney is continually doing research, reading financial, legal, and business journals, and participating in discussions with those in their field.
6. Familiar with all Chapters of Bankruptcy - Because there are many options when filing for bankruptcy, it is important that your bankruptcy attorney be aware of the details of these chapters, be familiar in filing bankruptcy under various chapters, and be qualified to know which chapter to file your case under. Your bankruptcy attorney should be able to guide you to whether you need to file under chapter 7 or chapter 13 and should be able to explain the differences between the two to you.
While not everyone is qualified for bankruptcy, there are many who could get a fresh start by handing their financial affairs to the right people.
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