Many bankruptcy attorneys, including myself, offer a free initial consultation for persons considering bankruptcy. This consultation provides consumers with the opportunity to get some more specific answers to their questions, to (hopefully) be presented with options that perhaps don't involve filing for bankruptcy, and a chance to meet the attorney who would be handling their case if and when they decide to hire them. I have also written an accompanying article on what you can expect form your initial consultation.
In order for you to get the most from your initial consultation, you will need to gather and bring with you an assortment of documents and information related to your financial situation. It will be impossible for me to provide you with any actionable advice unless I have a thorough understanding of your particular situation.
Guesses, roundabout numbers and rough estimates will not be sufficient for us to have a meaningful discussion about your options.
The following is a short list of the information (at a minimum) you will want to have on hand when you meet with me:
- Identification, generally a license and a social security card (you will need BOTH at your 341 meeting of the creditors so if you are missing one or both you need to start the process of getting them immediately).
- Income information for the last 7 months. This includes income from any and all sources, taxable or not from any and all sources employment related or otherwise.
- Information on each vehicle you own including copies of the title(s). (year, make, model, outstanding loan, monthly payments, etc.)
- Bank records for the past 3 months including property statements (IRA's, stocks, bonds, etc.).
- Tax returns (or transcripts of the returns) for the last 2 years. You can get these on demand from the IRS at no charge online. You will almost always need to have these to file for bankruptcy so if you haven't filed your taxes you will need to get that process started.
- Household expenses for the past 3 months. Having your bank records for this period will aid you in determining these figures.
- Account statements for debts and information on debts that don't have account statements (loans from friends, old cell phone accounts, etc.) I will discuss with you obtaining and using your credit report to aid in this process but not all debts appear on your credit report so you will generally need to do some searching.
- All collections statements, notices, letters, etc. including any envelopes and attachments.
- Lawsuits, wage or bank garnishment orders or other legal documents related to outstanding debts.
The last 2 on the list are especially vital because that information is generally where I will be able to provide you with options outside of bankruptcy and it's also what determines how urgent the situation is for most people.
You will need to provide the same amount and type of information whether you are considering a chapter 7 or a chapter 13 bankruptcy. The differences between those two types of bankruptcy and which one (if any) is best for you will be discussed at the consultation.
Whether or not you retain me to represent you in bankruptcy, it's always a good idea to have the above-listed information in an organized and easily accessible format.
If you are experiencing serious legal financial issues, you really do want to have this type of information at your fingertips in case you need to take action quickly to protect yourself.
If you have outstanding debts which are in the legal system a wage or bank garnishment could hit at any time and a bankruptcy filing may be the only appropriate option for you to stop the process. In such a case if you already have your financial information organized and at the ready, you will be prepared to take action immediately.
One final thought; write down any questions that you think you will have for me and bring them with you.
We will be discussing a lot of information in a short amount of time and you will likely forget some of the questions you had for me if you don't have them written down.
I find that most questions are answered throughout the consultation naturally, but I want to make sure I address each question that you have prepared before you leave.
If you are prepared and thorough, the process will move along quickly and efficiently and you will have a better understanding of what options may be available to you. Like many other things in life, the more prepared you are for the initial consultation the more you will get out of it.
If you haven't already, call 407.984.5270 today to schedule a free consultation so that we can discuss how I can help you take control of your situation and create a sustainable financial future for yourself.
The Law Office of Alex McClure provides services in Lake Mary, Sanford, Longwood, Deltona, Deland and all of Seminole, Volusia, Orange, Brevard and Lake Counties.