At your free
bankruptcy consultation, you’ll meet your bankruptcy lawyer for the first
time and share information about your financial situation and goals. Your
attorney will use that information to determine if bankruptcy is right for you,
and if so, what type. In order to get the best advice possible, you should
prepare for your first meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer. Here’s how.
Don’t be Shy – or Embarrassed
By the time most people summon the courage to walk through
the doors of a St. Louis bankruptcy law firm, they are often pretty embarrassed
about the state of their financial affairs. Don’t be. Bankruptcy lawyers work
with cases like yours every day. They’re in the business to help you, not judge
Many clients also find themselves getting emotional during
their first meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer. You might feel loss, anxiety,
sadness, anger, fear, or even relief. Your lawyer understands that it’s
natural to feel emotions as you start your bankruptcy journey, so don’t
feel ashamed if they come up during your first meeting.
Questions You’ll be Asked
In order to help you best, your bankruptcy lawyer will need
to know about your life and finances. They will want to know what has brought
you to consider bankruptcy, such as credit card debt, difficulty paying a
mortgage, medical bills, and so on. They might also ask:
- If you’re married
- If you have children
- How much money you and your spouse make
- How much money you’ve made over the last six
- If you own a business
- If you have any assets, and if so, what they are
- If you’ve recently sold or transferred any
property (see what
not to do)
- If you owe back taxes
- If you are behind on child support or alimony
- If any creditors have judgments against you
- What you hope to achieve through bankruptcy
Documents to Bring
Your bankruptcy attorney might provide a list of documents that you should plan to bring to your first meeting. If for some reason they do not, this list will get you off to a good start and help speed up the process.
- Copies of your driver’s license and social
- Your tax returns from the last two years
- Your bank statements from the last seven months
- Your pay stubs from the last seven months
- Copies of current statements from your mortgage
and car loan
- A current estimate of your car’s value
- Copies of current statements from your
retirement and investment accounts
- A copy of your life insurance policy
- If your home is in foreclosure, all foreclosure
- If you are separated or divorced, a copy of your
marital settlement agreement
Fees to Pay
During your free initial consultation, the subject of bankruptcy
fees will likely come up. Be prepared for your bankruptcy lawyer to discuss
their pricing, including legal fees, filing fees, and any additional costs,
such as the means test or a debtor education course.
Questions to Ask
You’ll receive a lot of information in your first meeting
with a bankruptcy lawyer, but you might still have questions. Write down your
list of questions before you go to the meeting so you don’t forget anything.
Here are some example questions:
- Should I file Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13
- Do I have to pay the fees upfront, or do you
- Will I be able to keep my house and my car?
- Will I be able to keep my bank accounts and
- What do your fees include?
- What don’t your fees include?
- How long will it take to prepare and file my
Your First Meeting with a Bankruptcy Attorney
Getting your documents and information in order before your first meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer will help you get the most out of your free consultation. Know that gathering paperwork can be time-consuming, so be sure to leave enough time to get organized before your appointment.
Looking for a St. Louis & Southern Illinois bankruptcy attorney?
law offices of Michael J. Benson today to schedule your free first meeting. We
look forward to helping you.