What is bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a way to get you out from under a mountain of debt. It re-sets everything so that you can be free from being a slave to the credit card companies, the medical bills, or the bank that is threatening to take your house. That’s what bankruptcy is – a way to obtain freedom.
Why would I need a bankruptcy attorney?
The bankruptcy laws are fairly complicated, especially since 2005. There were a lot of changes that require a lot of detailed procedures and mathematical calculations. Trying to do it yourself is now really beyond the grasp of most people because there are a lot of little traps for the unwary that can prevent you from getting a discharge of your debts. You really do need someone who is up to date with all of the changes that are constantly happening in this field.
What would be another benefit to having an attorney?
Attorneys can take care of all the steps so that it’s not just one more thing you have to deal with. Filing bankruptcy is a really stressful, difficult time for pretty much everyone. They’re really trying to stay afloat and juggle a lot of things. If they’re not employed, they’re trying to find a job. If they are employed, they’re trying to make sure they keep their job. They’ve probably got a lot of financial stress, which spills over into their family life. A good bankruptcy attorney will see that the procedure goes smoothly and as stress-free as possible.
When people think about bankruptcy, they are concerned about, “Do I have to go to court? Is this going to be in the paper? Will my work find out? Am I going to lose my car?” All of these questions may run through your head. It’s normal. Our job is to reassure you and answer your questions.
We prepare everything, make sure it gets filed properly, and are there with you for the hearing. All you have to do is give us the information we need. We will give you the likely questions ahead of time so you know exactly what to expect. After the hearing, a really common reaction is a client will either start crying tears of relief or plop down like all of this adrenaline has just come out of their system and they’ll be like, “Wow! I am so glad this is over.” It just hits them that they are free to start their life again.
What is the legal process involved with a bankruptcy?
The legal process is actually fairly straightforward. By the time we are done with the consultation, we have a pretty good idea of whether you’re going to be filing a 7 or a 13. After that initial meeting, we will get a lot of information from you; things like pay stubs, tax returns, and have you fill out a questionnaire with a lot of information about your creditors and your assets. Then, we take all of that data and put it into specialized software. The software will confirm whether you’re going to be doing a 7 or a 13. It also generates the forms to be filed with the court. You will review everything before it goes to the court so we can make any corrections. Then you’ll sign it and we’ll electronically file it.
You will have a hearing in about 30 days. It’s about ten minutes and we’ll make sure you’re prepared so you won’t be anxious. Then, approximately 60 days after that hearing, and assuming nothing else has cropped up in the meantime, you get your discharge and that’s it. That’s the procedure for Chapter 7.
The Chapter 13 process is a little different. In addition to the same paperwork we file for a Chapter 7, we file an additional document that outlines what property you are going to keep, what your creditors will be paid, etc. It uses a complex set of formulas but is mostly based on what you can afford to pay your creditors. If you don’t pay all your debts back, that’s fine. At the end of the time period, whatever balance you have left over is discharged.
That’s pretty much how the bankruptcy legal process works.
How do you choose an attorney that’s right for my specific case?
We believe you should choose an attorney who is knowledgeable and has been practicing bankruptcy law for a while. The best bankruptcy attorneys are those who are empathetic, and who really understand that this is a very tough time for clients. They are patient working with people who are stressed out and maybe aren’t the most organized. Your bankruptcy attorney really needs to be somebody who can work with that kind of situation and be comfortable with it.
Take a good look at the person who’s going to represent you. Do you feel comfortable with him or her? Is this somebody that you feel cares about you? Is he or she willing to answer your questions and not just refer you to a website or say, “Here’s a bunch of forms. Fill them out and call me when you’re done.”
What makes our firm unique?
Many bankruptcy attorneys have lots of experience and are knowledgeable. What makes us unique is who we are and what we value. Customer service is the most important thing. I’m going to state that again as it isn’t heard enough in the legal world. We put our clients first. We really do care what happens to you. When you come into our office you will be treated with respect; you’re not just another file in the drawer. You are a human being with actual real problems affecting your life. The first conversation we will have when you come in for a consultation with us begins with “Tell us your story. What happened? Why are you here? How can we help you?” And that’s sincere. It’s not just some kind of pitch. We truly are interested.
We also haven’t forgotten where we came from. Neither Erin nor Susanne came from economic privilege. Erin grew up in a small, rural town in Washington and Susanne belongs to the first generation of her family to be born in the US. Most of our clients are from similar circumstances where they worked hard, were financially responsible, and tried to make a good life for themselves and their family. For regular working people, an illness, job loss, or accident can be devastating. We get that. Our goal is that you should feel better when you leave our office than when you came in. From what we hear, not every firm sees the clients the same way.
Why would you choose your firm for bankruptcy attorney?
Honestly, we don’t know why you would go somewhere else. Our prices are very competitive and affordable. We care about what happens to you. We have considerable knowledge about bankruptcy but if there’s something we don’t know, we’ll find out to make sure we provide you with the best possible outcome. Our clients report back that we really helped get them through a difficult situation with a minimal amount of stress.
The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer will fight to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Call us today at (360) 334-6277 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.