First, let's talk about when is not the best time to talk to a bankruptcy lawyer. You just received a notice of wage garnishment from a lawsuit that you were served with 90 days ago and you did not take any action. Your house is due to be sold at a foreclosure sale tomorrow even though you were served with the foreclosure notice 6 months ago and the mortgage company was refusing your payments. Your car has just been repossessed and your job is now in jeopardy if you do not have transportation to work.
These are bad times to be talking with a bankruptcy attorney. Not because a bankruptcy attorney can't help you. A bankruptcy filing can possibly help you. It is a bad time because had you consulted with a bankruptcy attorney sooner, a different plan to help you deal with your debt issues may have been available. But, with this parade of horribles mentioned above, a bankruptcy filing may be more limited in the relief that it can provide because of your inaction.
So when should you talk to a bankruptcy lawyer? You know your finances are not what they should be. You know that you are struggling to pay your bills. You know that, while you are current on your bills, there will be a disruption in your income coming. Sometimes even just getting older with the changes that aging brings. These are good times to be exploring options. And, reading information on the internet, even quality information such as contained in this blog does not substitute for an experienced, knowledgeable attorney who can look at your particular situation.
A bankruptcy lawyer can help you plan for a future filing. A bankruptcy lawyer can help you prioritize the things that are important to you. If the house is most important, then in order to afford the house, perhaps a vehicle can be surrendered and a less expensive vehicle obtained. Or, the bankruptcy lawyer may tell you to stop paying your credit card bills and use the money that you were paying to the credit cards to make sure that your house payment is made. This can ensure that you are current on your house for a bankruptcy filing so that you do not have to pay more money for mortgage arrears or you can file a chapter 7.
Just because you do see a bankruptcy lawyer, that does not necessarily commit you to a bankruptcy filing. But, the bankruptcy lawyer can advise you as to how you can deal with your debt issues by going over with you the good things and bad things about particular strategies. The bankruptcy lawyer will have more tools at his or her disposal than just about anyone else and can tell you candidly the pros and cons of each.
For example, a debt settlement company may say that their solution is the best but they cannot litigate or file a bankruptcy case for you. A debt consolidation company may say that their solution is the best but they cannot litigate or file a bankruptcy case for you. An attorney who litigates but does not file bankruptcy cases may not see your bigger debt picture and say litigating the debt is best when the debt could have been wiped out with a lot of other debt had the litigating attorney been familiar with bankruptcy practice. A bankruptcy attorney can see all avenues and recommend a path according to your needs.
So, back to our question–when should you talk with a bankruptcy attorney? Sooner as opposed to later. Bankruptcy is not for everyone nor is it intended to be. But if you have debts, a thorough analysis of your finances should include a visit with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
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