Like most people, you probably rely on Google or other search engines to find answers to your most pertinent questions. The days of heading to the library are rapidly dwindling, and looking up a reputable business in the Yellow Pages is a quaint activity you might only consider during a power outage. But the Internet hasn’t eliminated the need to vet the information you find and seek professional help.
Too often we assume that a do-it-yourself approach is sufficient for all of our needs. While YouTube may offer great instructions on how to fix your broken dashboard lights or tile your bathroom floor, there are certain problems in life that are best solved with the hands-on assistance of people who have dedicated their livelihoods to them. The need for bankruptcy protection is one such problem.
Whether you’re struggling to pay your bills or simply can’t seem to shrink that mountain of credit card debt, you may have sought answers to your bankruptcy questions on the Web. In addition to the endless search results for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy (or chapters 11 and 12 — confused yet?) you may have come across links for a “means test.” While these seemingly simple tests may promise to tell you whether to file and for what type, they are a very poor substitute for an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
One reason is that a comprehensive means test asks you to input more than just your income and your most glaring debts. You will also need information on a range of different deductions, both standard and itemized. The answer to whether you’re best suited for Chapter 7 or 13 hinges on a relatively small dollar amount, which means that a minor miscalculation could result in a major financial mistake in the long run.
An experienced bankruptcy attorney can use every detail of your financial picture — including your current spending habits and your future goals — to help determine your ideal solution. You’ll be in even more capable hands by choosing an attorney who has met the rigorous standards of the American Board of Certification, demonstrating an advanced level of knowledge in bankruptcy and creditors’ rights laws.
The financial decisions you make today will affect your life into retirement and beyond. Isn’t your future worth more than a one-size-fits-all, DIY approach?