Basic Bankruptcy Questions
Whenever I meet with a 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? What happened to get to this point?
Many of these bankruptcy questions lead to more questions. They are designed to give me an idea of out what is happening and how did we get here. 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 clients think it is invasive and inappropriate. 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. I am looking for potential landmines that could cause problems but also for things that could help as well.
Household Members in Bankruptcy
This extends to your relationships with other people. Do you live with anyone else? 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 I need to know about the household support you get from a boyfriend or girlfriend. Without that knowledge I might not be able to put together a bankruptcy budget that works.
Property in Bankruptcy
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 retirement, home equity, 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 in your bankruptcy petition but they are not going to be seized.
Transactions in Bankruptcy
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. Did you give a car to a relative last year? Did you pay back your family members for a personal loan this year? Well I need to know these things – they might not be an issue, but if it is you and I will discuss it.
Expectations in Bankruptcy
Not all the questions we ask are about planning out your bankruptcy case. 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. Knowledge enables me to advise you about your options and gives me a better idea about your potential outcomes. If you have property that is not protected by law then you and your attorney need to have a plan on how that will be dealt with in the bankruptcy case.
It is 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.