If you scheduled a consultation to file for personal bankruptcy, it is likely you are already overwhelmed. When bills pile up and collection calls will not stop, it is easy to just want the whole thing to be over so you can move on with a debt-free life. However, you need to stay engaged in the process to ensure you are making the correct decision for you and your financial situation. Here are four things to ask about during your consultation about personal bankruptcy in Montgomery County, TX:
- Type of bankruptcy: Individual filers have two options for personal bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Each offers different advantages depending on the situation. If you own valuable assets that are not subject to property exemptions, currently hold a mortgage in foreclosure or face tax debt, Chapter 13 may be a better option, especially if you have a regular income and do not qualify for Chapter 7 under the Means Test. But if you carry mainly unsecured debts like medical bills and credit cards, Chapter 7 is likely your best bet.
- Fees: Ironically, filing for bankruptcy can be expensive. Besides the attorney fees, there are also filing fees: $335 for Chapter 7 and $310 for Chapter 13. If there are unexpected complications, like a creditor filing an adversarial claim, your fees will increase. Always be sure to ask about initial fees and any additional fees that may result while your case is pending. You already experienced enough money surprises that you do not need to add bankruptcy fees to that list.
- What to expect: Never be afraid to ask about any red flags in your case. Just like you don’t want a surprise when to comes to attorney fees and costs, you also want the whole picture of what could happen with your case. You may have debt that invites creditors to sue you in an adversarial claim, or assets that will be sold and liquidated because the exemptions do not cover them. It is better to know about these situations before you file so you can make an informed decision. Many people decide against bankruptcy once they learn they will lose assets.
- Length of case: Bankruptcy attorneys should be able to tell you when they can file your case and when it will be over. Most non-asset Chapter 7 cases last at least 90 days, but they can go longer if you have assets or if there are any complications. Chapter 13 cases last three to five years. If you have mortgage arrears or tax debt, your case will likely last closer to five years. Even if all your attorney can offer is estimates, at least nail down when the case will be filed. This is especially important if you are facing a garnishment or lawsuit, both of which can be stopped by a bankruptcy filing.
James R. Jones, Attorney at Law, can help you file for consumer bankruptcy in Montgomery County, TX. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.