When you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel you may be in the market for a bankruptcy attorney in Florida. Over 930,000 people filed for bankruptcy in 2014. When you can’t make ends meet or pay your bills each month, when you keep falling behind no matter how hard you work, you may want to contact a Florida bankruptcy attorney.
You will need to decide which kind of bankruptcy you need before you begin looking for a bankruptcy attorney. Most people file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which wipes out consumer debts but not back taxes, alimony, child support, or student loans. Chapter 7 bankruptcy eliminates medical bills, civil judgments, overdue utilities, payday loans, credit card debt and various other consumer loans. Chapter 13 bankruptcy re-organizes your finances and allows you to pay off your debts in 3-5 years; the court will put a “stay” on actions from creditors so they can’t bother you or file against you. Chapter 13 protects you from foreclosure, repossessions, lawsuits, wage garnishment and harassment. You can usually keep cars and your home and you will be able to pay everyone off honorably but at a schedule more suited to your financial state.
Once you’ve decided on the type of bankruptcy you need, you must realize that bankruptcy is a complicated process and if it’s not done correctly, your application can be rejected or you can lose things you could otherwise keep if you don’t choose the right Florida bankruptcy attorney. You should first ask family, friends, and co-workers if they have a bankruptcy attorney they can recommend. Then you can look in the phone book or on the internet to acquire some names.
Once you have a list of 3-5 attorneys, you should check with the bar association to see if they are in good standing or if they have a record of disciplinary actions. Avoid those who have been reprimanded. Check their names with the American Bankruptcy Institute and the NACBA (National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys). NACBA offers a lot of resources for people who are considering bankruptcy because of debts. These two organizations can guide you to attorneys who are specialists in bankruptcy law.
You should then do an internet search on the names and weed out those whose clients are dissatisfied or accuse them of deception. Read news articles about them; many times you can ascertain how a Tampa or St. Petersburg bankruptcy attorney treats his or her clients by how the articles read.
Another aspect of choosing a bankruptcy attorney in San Diego is deciding if you want to retain a large firm with many attorneys or a small one or two attorney office. Large firms often have their own research department and investigative departments that can help in your bankruptcy. However, a small firm can give you more individual attention, spend more time answering your questions, and be more reassuring if that’s what you need.
Once you have checked the credentials and reputations through professional organizations of a few attorneys, it’s time to make some calls and ask about consultations; most bankruptcy attorneys will gladly offer a free 15 minute or half hour consultation to see if the two of you are a good fit. You can discuss whether the fees are on an hourly basis or if they charge a flat fee. If your case involves a lot of research you may want to opt for a flat fee.
Finally, don’t feel ashamed of filing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy does not mean you are lazy, a bad money manager, or dishonest. Most people who file for bankruptcy have done everything they can to live within their means and pay their obligations. The financial climate in the past few years and the prospects in the future practically ensure that millions more will be forced into bankruptcy against their will—you have plenty of company.
Finding a bankruptcy attorney in Florida is the first and most important step in recovering from financial disaster. A good bankruptcy attorney can help you get back on your feet and protect your interests, now and in the future.