Questions to Ask Your Lawyer About Bankruptcy

Considering Filing for Bankruptcy? Here Are the Questions to Ask Your Bankruptcy Lawyer

You’ve been working hard to get your financial life back in order, but still can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. You’re thinking maybe it’s time to consider filing for bankruptcy, but you are uncertain what that means, now and in the future. Here are the key questions to ask a bankruptcy attorney.

  • What are your qualifications? Before you hire a bankruptcy lawyer, find out how much experience they have, what types of bankruptcy proceedings they have handled and how well they have worked with others.
  • What are my options in bankruptcy? There are different approaches to bankruptcy. Chapter 7 allows you to permanently discharge most debts. In a Chapter 13 proceeding you have to make monthly payments to a Chapter 13 trustee who will distribute that money to your creditors over a three to five year period. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy case can also be used to catch up on missed mortgage payments, stop a foreclosure, or get back a car that has been recently repossessed.
  • Do I qualify for Chapter 7 protection? Under the 2005 revisions to the bankruptcy laws, to qualify for Chapter 7, you must demonstrate to the bankruptcy court that you lack the means to pay off your debts over a three-to-five year period. Your attorney should be able to walk you through the means test, provided you supply accurate financial information. Most people who are considering filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy are eligible for Chapter 7.
  • If I file Chapter 7, can I keep any assets? The federal bankruptcy laws allow certain exemptions when you file for protection under Chapter 7. Each state has its own set of exemptions. You can choose one or the other. As a practical matter, nearly 98% of all people who file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy are able to keep everything that they own, including their houses and their cars.
  • What debts can I discharge? Most debts can be discharged in bankruptcy. However, not all debts may be discharged in a Chapter 7; certain tax obligations, child support arrearages and student loans are typically not dischargeable.
  • What information do I need to provide? You will be required to make an accurate and complete disclosure of your assets and liabilities as well as your monthly income and expenses. Your lawyer can work with you to collect all the documents necessary for a bankruptcy filing.
  • What is the cost? The cost for filing a bankruptcy case varies based on the complexity of the case. Between court costs and attorney’s fees, a standard Chapter 7 case can cost between $1,500 and $2,000. This amount is usually only equal to a small fraction of the debt owed.

Contact John Hargrave and Associates

We have provided comprehensive counsel to individuals in and around Barrington, New Jersey, since 1977. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our office by e-mail or call us at 856-547-6500.


  1. I never knew that the cost of filing a bankruptcy case can be different depending on how complicated the case is. There is probably a lot of information about bankruptcy that people often don’t know about. Hiring an attorney to help in these kinds of situations seems to be crucial.

    • JHargraveAssoc says:

      Everything we do for the first time is difficult including filing a bankruptcy case. So yes having an attorney making sure the forms are prepared correctly is important. Congress has tried to make the forms easier to file out but there still so many things the general public will not understand. The danger of doing it yourself is that you will not know if you did it wrong until it is too late. It is that you get to talk to the lawyer, and not just his staff. The biggest mistake people make is leaving something important off your bankruptcy schedules. For instance, I have had countless people that they don’t own a car or don’t own a house. When they are pressed on this facts they say “I’m still making payments on it”. That belief is wrong. Or the person forgets to tell the attorney about the payments they are making to Mom to repay a loan. These are just two ways people can make huge mistakes doing a bankruptcy without professional help

  2. My best friend has been thinking about filing for bankruptcy because she lost her job a couple of months ago and hasn’t been able to keep up with all her bills. It’s good to know that Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you catch up on mortgage payments and help you avoid foreclosure. I think that would really help her out, so I’ll have to tell her to start looking into lawyers that could help her figure out what she needs to do to start the process of filing for that.

  3. I found it helpful when you said that you should check out how much experience a lawyer has to find out their qualifications. This is something that I will share with my aunt because she is planning to hire a professional. She mentioned that she’d like to file bankruptcy to put a stop to all the calls that she’s been receiving from debt collectors. Thanks!

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