We frequently receive calls from people who filed their bankruptcy case with another lawyer, and now want to change lawyers. Sometimes it’s because the first lawyer won’t return calls. Sometimes the client just doesn’t understand requirements and procedures. Sometimes they have received objections, and believe their case has been thrown out, or will be thrown out, no matter what they do. Sometimes clients suspect that they are not receiving the best deal possible.
To be successful, bankruptcies require that the paperwork be done accurately. Each case is different, and one size definitely does not fit all. The lawyer needs documentation (paystubs, tax returns, bills, letters, etc.) to fill out the forms at the beginning and on an ongoing basis so that the Trustee or creditors do not object. Debtors often believe that approximations are good enough, and that they are free to pick and choose which debts to file. Approximations work occasionally, but not always. You are always supposed to list all of your debts, even if you are keeping the property or paying for it “outside” the bankruptcy. The general rule is that everything is “disclosed”, even though there may be considerable freedom in deciding how debts or assets are treated in the plan or statement of intentions.
Our experience is that taking time to be accurate on the front end greatly reduces anxiety, and reduces complications in both simple and hard cases. Naturally, hard cases, like business cases or repeat filings, take longer to get right than simple cases. Sometimes clients believe that their case is hard, when really it’s easy, and sometimes they think it’s easy, when it’s complex for reasons they did not anticipate. Either way, it works best when everyone understands the challenges and benefits as early as possible. The best way to make that happen is to be prepared with paperwork. Keep appointments. Listen carefully to questions, and trust that the lawyer really is on your side even if he warns you about constraints. Trust that the lawyer wants you to succeed, and get what you want as badly as you do.
If you are wondering about filing a bankruptcy, call first and ask general questions. Listen for whether you are being treated with respect, and expect to get some meaningful answers to your questions. However, you shouldn’t expect highly specific answers if you haven’t met the lawyer in person and provided all the information needed to write detailed plans and schedules.
After you file, trust the lawyer that you have chosen. The procedures and requirements are too numerous to understand everything at once, especially things that may or may not happen in the future. Sometimes you have to be patient and let your questions come into focus.
After you have chosen to file with a particular lawyer, it’s not proper for a different lawyer to give second opinions and second guess decisions that your lawyer has made. When people who are already represented ask me questions, I may feel like offering my own opinion and solutions, but I almost always refrain. A person who offers a “second opinion” often hasn’t understood everything. It’s disrespectful to both the lawyer and the client to make superficial suggestions without an adequate grasp of the facts.
Please call us at 770-683-3303 to discuss your particular situation. With our help, starting the process will be less stressful, smoother, and more successful than what you might think.