The best time to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer is not when you are already up to your ears in past-due and disconnect notices, but when you first start to get into financial trouble. Waiting until you have already fallen behind on important payments may complicate your recovery, even in a bankruptcy.
Personal bankruptcy attorneys are experienced negotiators. A bankruptcy lawyer might help you avoid bankruptcy altogether by helping you renegotiate loan terms or refinance your mortgage.
You may benefit from speaking with a bankruptcy attorney before finances get so tight and things get so bad that you feel you have no choice left. For example:
- If you have experienced a shift in your financial circumstances that will probably affect your ability to make payments on your mortgage or car loan for the foreseeable future
- If you have a major unexpected cost that drains your resources and savings, like a serious illness or injury not entirely covered by insurance.
Depending on your situation, your attorney may advise you to declare bankruptcy right away, either to get it over with or to protect certain valuable assets. Or your bankruptcy lawyer may suggest that you delay the bankruptcy filing or may suggest methods to avoid filing a bankruptcy, if that is possible and appropriate.
It is not unusual for credit card companies or medical service providers to suggest a settlement when they learn you are considering bankruptcy. This is because typically unsecured debt holders will receive no distribution from a bankruptcy case. Whether or not taking advantage of those settlement offers is in your best interest is advice that an experienced bankruptcy lawyer can give you.
In addition, ever since the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA), people who want to declare bankruptcy must attend a credit counseling or personal financial management class within 180 days before filing for bankruptcy. You will only receive a discharge of your debts in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you complete an instructional course concerning personal financial management after you file for bankruptcy.
Speaking with an experienced Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorney early in the process can ensure that you meet all of the prerequisites for filing and that you get the maximum benefit from the process.