Preparing for your 1st meeting with a Bankruptcy Attorney
Here's a short guide on some items you'll want to bring to your 1st meeting with your bankruptcy attorney. This is not an exhaustive list of every document you may need to provide, but it's a good start. Some attorneys may request you bring more (or less) documents to your 1st meeting.
Your DebtsObviously, if you're considering bankruptcy, you want to make sure you list ALL debts. It's helpful to write down the name of every creditor and the approximate balance owed. Get one sheet of paper (or an email)...list the names of all your creditors and the amounts owed; that's all. More detailed information will come from the next items. It's very helpful to bring any and all statements from creditors and debt collectors, including collection letters, and any other paperwork with information about your debts. This may also include lawsuits and garnishments. This is where we get more details about the debts, including creditor addresses and account numbers. Finally, it's always good to bring recent copies of your credit reports, preferably one from each major credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian & TransUnion). The credit reports act as a good "cross-reference" to make sure you've listed all your creditors. I recommend my clients get their credit reports from www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
Your Income (and that of your spouse)Your income is a very important factor in whether you qualify for bankruptcy. Your bankruptcy attorney will need to know, not only how much income you are currently making, but also how much you have made over the last six month. A good start is to bring your last 8 weeks of paychecks, but it's possible you may need to supply pay records for the last six months. If you're self-employed, you will need to be able to tell your bankruptcy lawyer how much you've made over the last six months, and likely provide bank statements. Eventually, you may need to supply your attorney with your last two years of tax returns, but I don't require my clients to bring this to their first appointment. If you are married and living with your spouse, you will need to provide a recent paycheck (possibly up to six months worth) for your spouse, even if they are not filing.
Your Expenses (Budget)This one is easy. Simply list the bills you pay each month...house, car, utilities, food, insurance, day-care, gas, school, child-support, etc... Be sure to list everything; don't leave any expense out. Your bankruptcy attorney needs an accurate picture of your expenses.
ConclusionThis guide is meant to be a "good start" on getting information together for your bankruptcy attorney, and is not meant to be completely exhaustive of everything you may need to eventually provide.