11 May What To Expect At Your First Bankruptcy Appointment
For most people, the decision to consult a bankruptcy attorney seems to be the most difficult part of the bankruptcy filing process. But talk to anyone 6 months after filing and they will usually tell you that that decision to file was one of the best decisions they made in their life.
Generally, there are two main items most attorneys want to see when you set up your first consultation: Proof of Income and Creditors. While most attorneys have an intake sheet to gather this and other information from you when you first come in, its also a wise idea to bring in further evidence of these items to your first consultation.
Proof of Income: If you are a w-2 employee, bring your last two paystubs received. Although the new bankruptcy laws require 6 months paystubs to file your case, generally this is not required for the first consultation. If you are self employed, then a 6 month profit and loss statement is a good idea. If you are on disability, unemployment, social security, or other aid, proof of the last 30 days income from that source is very helpful.
Creditors: Your attorney will want to know what your debt is for. You will want to bring either a recent credit report, last bill for each creditor, or spreadsheet listing who you owe money to and how much you know.
The initial consultation generally lasts 30 to 60 minutes, depending how complex your case is. Be candid with the attorney. Reveal everything. Don’t hold back. Any competant attorney who has been practicing bankruptcy law for over 5 years or filed over 1,000 cases will pretty much have seen it all and there is nothing surprising you can say. But if you hold back information, it will only bite you later after filing.
The attorney is there to guide you and offer you advice. Much of it may be in the form of pre-bankrutpcy planning in order to protect you. If you fail to disclose all information requested, then it thwarts the pre-bankrutpcy planning and the attorney can not fully help you if there is stuff not known.
So fill out the intake sheet completely. Disclose everything. There is never too much information to offer. The attorney will conduct the interview and have you focus on the important items. Let the attorney decide when you need to stop offering information.
Contrary to what most people think, filing for bankruptcy is not the end of the world. Rather, its a new beginning, a FRESH START!! But just make sure you get an attorney with experience and you disclose everything!
Written by Michael G. Doan
Bankruptcy Law Network (BLN)
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