Gunger Law Firm FAQ

Can I still file for bankruptcy?

Yes. Bankruptcy relief is still available. Although creditors would love to have you believe it is no longer an option because of the law passed by Congress in 2005, you can still file for bankruptcy. It is true that the 2005 bankruptcy law makes the process much more complicated, but the basic right to file bankruptcy, and most of bankruptcy’s benefits, still remain for most consumers. The cost of filing for bankruptcy also has increased, both in terms of fees you to have to pay the court and the fee you will have to pay your attorney.

Why not wait and try to negotiate with creditors?

Often, even when people are in danger of foreclosure or car repossession, or are being sued, or are having their wages garnished–even then, they do not want to think about filing for bankruptcy. It is very painful to think of filing for bankruptcy–especially before understanding the issues related to bankruptcy. In most cases, once bankruptcy options are explained by an experienced attorney, people are greatly relieved to find that their problems can be resolved after all.

Do not wait until after your house is foreclosed, your car is repossessed, or your wages are being garnished. Find out what bankruptcy relief is available to you sooner rather than later. We can possibly stop the foreclosure, the repossession, and garnishment, but we probably can’t recover it once it is gone. Also, the more time we have to help you, the better result we can accomplish. Plus, it costs you nothing to find out your rights. Call now for a free phone consultation with our banruptcy lawyer in Auburn, ,NY (315) 253-2288.

Why not try debt counseling, credit repair, and bankruptcy-related scams?

Sometimes, when people are in difficult financial situations and they fear they cannot afford an attorney, they may listen to the assurances of unscrupulous operators who are all too willing to take their last remaining dollars. These operators appear in a number of types of businesses, but all offer the lure of a cheap, easy way to make financial problems disappear. They invariably leave the person poorer and, in many cases, much worse off than before.

Here are some of the scams: Most often, our clients have first tried “credit repair” or credit counseling. Those individuals who really need to file bankruptcy find that they have wasted time and resources trying to work with credit counseling. A big problem is that there are many “credit repair” companies that are not associated with the established nonprofit credit counselors in the community. These outfits promise to make credit problems go away. However, they do not know magic tricks. Their business model is to take as much money from an individual as possible and do nothing for them. In no time, individuals using these services find they are out thousands of dollars, and they have judgments, garnishments, liens on their home, and frozen bank accounts–in other words–a real mess.

Even legitimate credit counseling companies obtain most of their funding from credit card companies and so they will often give advice that is good for the credit card companies but not good for the individual. The best thing is to call us for a free phone consultation at (315) 253-2288 so you can know your rights. Other rip-off artists sell services that consumers could obtain for free or at minimal expense. After taking the consumer’s money, they may offer a debt-consolidation loan, which often means a home equity loan or a refinancing of the debtor’s first mortgage. These loans can be big mistakes, turning unsecured credit card debts that can be wiped out in bankruptcy into mortgages that cannot be discharged or trading debts with little or no interest for debts with high interest rates. The brokers or lenders who push these loans on debtors with poor credit histories usually charge very high fees.

Some individuals may try to use non-local bankruptcy services. However, our Bankruptcy Courts and Trustees require local representation, and a case will usually get dismissed if out-of-state attorneys are used. When debtors whose cases are dismissed try to file a second, corrected case, the new law takes away many rights they would have had in the first case. Therefore, it is very important to get the advice of an experienced local bankruptcy attorney for your first case so that you will have all the rights and protections possible.

Why do I need a knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer?

The decision to file for bankruptcy requires careful analysis of your situation. You should file for bankruptcy only after determining that it is the best way to deal with your financial problems. There are a number of potential pitfalls and tricks in the 2005 bankruptcy law, so it is very important to consult with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney. If your case is filed wrong, it may be dismissed for not filing a required document, and if you have to file a new case, you may not be able to get the same protection from your creditors.

A good bankruptcy attorney is well-versed in the possible complications that might arise in what seems to be a simple and straightforward case; is aware of recent changes in the law and of court decisions in the local courts; and can usually find ways of making a bankruptcy case more productive and effective than it would be if the debtor tried to handle it without an attorney, ultimately saving the debtor many hundreds or thousands of dollars more than the attorney’s fee.

Finally, having a good bankruptcy attorney can bring debtors the peace of mind that results from knowing their cases are being handled without the mistakes that they might make on their own. Other attorneys may not do a lot of bankruptcy work, so it is easy for them to make a mistake. Make sure your attorney limits his or her practice to bankruptcy.

How much will it cost to file for bankruptcy?

This is a question that everyone asks. It is a good question. Part of the cost is the Bankruptcy Court filing fees which are approximately $300. You also must take a “Credit Counseling” course before you file for bankruptcy and a “Debtor Education” course after you file for bankruptcy. These courses can cost anywhere from $12 to $25 each. The attorneys will need to have your credit report and copies of several documents, including the titles to your vehicles, the recorded deed to your home, the recorded mortgage to your home, copies of 6 months of paystubs, 2 years of tax returns, and copies of your bills.

In the bankruptcy process, if things are not done correctly, you may not get a discharge, and there would be additional fees to reopen your case to fix the problems. Also, as part of the bankruptcy process, the trustee can take certain assets, such as your tax refund. Does your attorney have a system to minimize this potential? If things are not done correctly, your lender can repossess your car. Does your attorney have a system to prevent this from happening? Also, creditors can claim fraud and prevent a discharge of certain debts. Does your attorney have a system to minimize this potential? What if you need to wait to file the bankruptcy? Does your attorney offer any type of protection while you are waiting to file? Our firm has systems to make the experience of filing for bankruptcy as smooth as possible.

The cost to file for bankruptcy depends on the circumstances of your case. We offer a free in-person consultation, and once we understand your situation, we can give you the costs, including the court filing fees, the courses, and the credit report. We take payments to make it easy for you. Please call us at (315) 253-2288 right now.

What if I can't afford to pay an attorney? I'm broke.

Many people do not want to talk with an attorney about bankruptcy because they think they cannot afford to pay an attorney. First, we offer a free in-person consultation, so you don’t need any money to find out your rights. Call us at (315) 253-2288 to take advantage of the free consultation. During the initial consultation, Gunger Law Firm may develop a filing strategy that will allow you to save money you are currently paying to creditors.

Gunger Law Firm allows you to make payments while letting creditors know that you have retained an attorney to file a bankruptcy petition. After notification, the creditors should call our office, and we usually have time to allow the client to make payments for the fees. We want to work with clients so that they can get a fresh start. Also, our firm now accepts debit cards for making payments.

How do I find a good bankruptcy lawyer?

Just as there are good doctors and bad doctors, good teachers and bad teachers, good auto mechanics and bad auto mechanics, so, too, there are good lawyers and bad lawyers. Indeed, some attorneys are barely competent or even downright incompetent. Just as there is no simple, guaranteed way of finding a good doctor, there is no simple, guaranteed way to find a good lawyer. Here are some things to look for:


It would seem obvious that an attorney who has been practicing for over 30 years should know more than an attorney with only 10 years of experience. However, that is not always the case. There are some attorneys who have practiced bankruptcy law for many years but have never really mastered the subject. There are other attorneys who have pursued a general practice, filing a case now and then. If they have been practicing for over 30 years without much in-depth experience in bankruptcy, that does not translate to the expertise you need.

Tip #1: Look for an attorney with many years of experience in consumer and small business bankruptcy law who enjoys the respect of other bankruptcy attorneys, trustees, and judges. Gunger Law Firm has over 30 years of bankruptcy law experience.

Training & Competence

After an attorney graduates from law school and passes the state bar examination, then the real learning begins. Even when there are not many new laws being passed on a particular subject, attorneys improve their skills by attending educational seminars. Now, with the enactment of the 2005 bankruptcy law, education is an absolute necessity. So many basic concepts under the prior law just don’t work anymore. And the 2005 law is so complex; an attorney is making a big mistake if they think they can understand it by just sitting down and reading it. There is only one organization that is devoted to training attorneys who represent debtors–the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA).

Tip #2: Is the attorney a member of the NACBA? Did the attorney attend NACBA educational events? The attorneys at our firm are members of the NACBA and have been attending the conferences for years.

Someone Who Will Listen to You

An attorney who tells you what you should do before they even listen to the facts of your situation is not the right attorney. Unfortunately, some attorneys have a “cookie cutter” approach to legal advice, which completely ignores the true difficulties or opportunities that your case may present.

Tip #3: You want an attorney who will listen to your facts and ask the right questions so they will truly understand your case. We will answer your questions during the intital in-person consultation.

Someone Who Will Give You Specific Advice About Your Situation

Tip #4: Your attorney should listen to you and then consider your specific facts in the context of the law. You would not want a doctor to tell you how to fix a problem before you told him about it first. We will listen to your concerns and situation first. Only by doing that can we give you the advice you deserve–excellent advice.