Whenever I meet with a potential bankruptcy client the first duty I have is to try and figure out what services they need and if I can help them. I usually start by asking basic questions about their lives. Are they married? Do they have children? What do they do for a living? How much income do they have? What kinds of debt do they have?
All of these questions only lead to more questions. I am trying to figure out what is happening with them and how they got into a position where they need to talk to me. But that is only part of what is going on.
In bankruptcy there are thousands of little issues that can have a tremendous impact on a case. I don’t know about those issues until I ask about them. Sometimes people think I am asking just because I am nosy! Well, I might be curious in general, but that curiosity is professional in nature. I am asking questions so I can be sure that I am giving good advice about bankruptcy to my clients.
This extends to your relationships with other people. Do you have another adult you live with but you are not married? Well, I need to know that. It might have an effect on your budget in your bankruptcy case, which might in turn change your options in bankruptcy. If you are filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy where you have a payment in the case but I don’t know about the household support you get from a boyfriend or girlfriend I might not be able to put together a bankruptcy budget that works.
I need to know what kind of property you own. Do you have a car? More than one? Have you put any work into an old car that you bought? Do you have firearms? Have you cashed out any retirement accounts? How much is your furniture worth? What about your clothing?
Just because I ask you about something does not mean it is going to be an issue. In Kansas your clothing, electronics, household goods and furnishings (furniture) are all protected in the bankruptcy court from seizure by the bankruptcy trustee. You still have to list those items and their values but they are not going to be seized.
Bankruptcy cases are not just about planning. They are also about expectations. Your bankruptcy attorney should ask you enough questions about your life and what got you to this point so they can help guide you through the bankruptcy process. The more information they have the more then can help you figure out what is going to happen.
I will ask about your transactions with your creditors, friends, relatives, strangers – anyone that you have paid money to or sold a car to in the last few years. The bankruptcy trustee might have the ability to unwind those transactions so I have to ask about them.
It is so important to understand that although you might think the facts of your case are simple the small details that go with them might make the issues complex. I see cases all the time with these kinds of problems. As long as I know about them I can help you plan things out and make the best choices possible.
If you have questions about bankruptcy or you need a consultation please feel free to reach out to us. We are happy to go over your issues and help you figure things out.
Just be patient – I might have to ask you a few questions.