Understanding Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
There are generally considered to be three types of debts in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The first type would be non-dischargeable debts, or debts that you cannot discharge in bankruptcy, including, but not limited to, student loans, drunk driving accidents, alimony, child support, debts ordered through a divorce decree, debts incurred through fraud or misrepresentation, recent credit card usage and certain taxes. The second type would be secured debt. These are debts owed to creditors that can take back the collateral if you do not make your payments to them, such as motor vehicle loans and real property mortgages. The third type would be general unsecured dischargeable debt. These are, generally, debts that you no longer owe upon the discharge of your case.
Hiring an Attorney
Filing for bankruptcy without an attorney can be quite daunting and very confusing. It is not only recommended that you have representation throughout the proceeding, but that you hire counsel that has experience in bankruptcy law. The recent economy has created a multitude of individuals and companies that state they practice in the bankruptcy area or that make many promises for other debt relief alternatives. It is important to do your research and ask as many questions as you can, such as:
- How long have they been practicing law?
- How long have they been practicing bankruptcy law?
- What are the upfront fees?
- Will there be any fees due upon completion?
- What will be the total cost?
- Do they hold appropriate licenses and insurance?
- Will I be working with the same attorney throughout my case?
- Will that attorney be in attendance at my 341 Meeting of Creditors?
Additionally, hiring an attorney should be like hiring any other professional. You may want to seek a second, or even a third, opinion if you are not completely comfortable with the advice you were given. You should also make a follow up call or appointment in the event there were questions forgotten or you need clarification of a previous answer. It will be important that you feel you can communicate with your attorney and that they are familiar with you and your case.