Why is My Bankruptcy Lawyer Asking Me So Many Questions?
Posted on Apr 25, 2012 in Bankruptcy, Bankruptcy Information, Bankruptcy procedures, BAPCPA, Illinois, Legal, Wisconsin
When we meet prospective clients for the first time, we try to make them feel welcome as guests of the firm. After all, a lawyer-client relationship is built on trust and comfort. The first meeting, which we offer free of charge, is meant to help our clients evaluate us and for us to evaluate the nature of our clients’ cases and what we can do to help.
Like most firms, we usually ask questions at the initial meeting. Other firms have lengthy questionnaires, whereas we prefer to ask direct questions to find out what we need to know. Some of these questions probably seem strange, especially since most folks come in with minimal money and assets and hefty debts. So why do we ask these questions?
Well, first off, bankruptcy is a complicated process. Try reading the 2005 “reform” of the bankruptcy laws passed by Congress. If you understood that, you’d be the first to do so. The point is that the bankruptcy laws don’t always mesh with common sense. When people do sensible things to avoid bankruptcy like sell off assets, borrow from relatives and pay them back or settle debts, it can cause problems in bankruptcy. So we need to know this before we prepare paperwork so that we’re not surprised and our clients aren’t either when the courts and trustees ask these questions.
They are routine questions to us, we’ve heard them hundreds of times. “Has anyone died leaving you money? Did you pay a relative a large sum of money for a loan or debt in the last year? Did you sell any big asset like a car or house for less than full value in the last 2 years? Did you pay any one of your creditors over $1000 in the last 3 months? Did you use a credit card or take out a loan in the last 90 days?”
As experienced attorneys, we know what the most common questions are going to be as we help people through the bankruptcy process. We’re not trying to judge or trick you, but trying to identify these issues and explain them. Sometimes that means waiting for a few weeks or months to file. Other times it means nothing is wrong and we can move ahead as we planned. Having experienced attorneys who know what questions to ask mean less “surprises”, and nobody likes those in the courtroom or bankruptcy hearings.