Bankruptcy attorneys and their office staff understand how anxious most people feel the first time they meet to discuss filing bankruptcy. In order to help you to be a little more at ease, here is a list of documents that you can begin collecting prior to your first meeting with the attorney or staff. Keep in mind that different bankruptcy attorneys have different office procedures, so your attorney may give you different instructions.
Many bankruptcy attorney offices, including mine in the Northern District of New York, need at least the following:
1.) Your last 7 months pay stubs. If you do not have them, ask your employer for a print out, by pay period, that shows your gross pay and withholdings. If you are self employed, you will need to be able to show each month’s gross income and your business expenses for each month.
2.) Your last 2 years income tax returns. If you haven’t filed, or are not required to file, be sure to let the attorney know when they will be filed.
3.) Monthly bank statements from all banks or credit unions.
4.) Information about any inheritances that you may be entitled to.
5.) Your most recent 401K, IRA or profit sharing statements. Again, if you can’t locate the most recent one, ask your employer, human resource department, or investment advisor where you can obtain one.
6.) Your most recent property and school tax bills. If your taxes are paid through your mortgage company, they should provide you with a copy of the tax bill they receive. If you can’t locate your bill, check with your local tax assessor’s office about where to get a copy.
7.) A copy of the recorded deed and mortgage for your primary residence. If you own several properties, bring those as well. These are not the copies you receive at your real estate closing. These are the originals and are filed at the county clerk’s office of the county where you reside. It may be necessary for you to make a trip to the clerk’s office to obtain these, and there may be a small fee for the copies.
8.) Any foreclosure notices you may have received.
9.) Information about leases or timeshares.
10.) Copies of the last 3 months statements from all your creditors. If accounts have been turned over to collection, bring the collection letters. Usually the original creditor’s name is referenced in the letter and this will help the staff when entering the information into their bankruptcy software. A copy of your credit report is very helpful. You can get a free credit report by going to www.annualcreditreport.com
11.) If you are separated, bring a copy of your separation agreement, divorce decree, and support papers.
12.) Documents regarding any automobile you have, including title and purchase agreements.
Most people find that it’s helpful to organize the information in an envelope or folder. Label it accordingly, and be prepared to leave the papers for the staff to copy. The more thorough your preparation, the better able you attorney will be able to go over all your options with you and properly represent you.
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Last modified: March 6, 2012