Are you considering filing for chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy? People often consult a bankruptcy attorney at their lowest point. By the time they enter the attorney’s office, they have often felt out of control of their finances and their lives for months or even years. They are embarrassed, stressed, and emotionally battered from seemingly endless harassment by creditors or the threat of foreclosure, garnishment, or repossession. For many, making the call and coming in for the initial consultation may be one of the most difficult things that they will face in their entire lives because it forces them to face the reality of their financial situation. It forces them to admit that they are in trouble.
A bankruptcy attorney must be able to ascertain the exact nature of the potential client’s financial problems through the information provided by the client. Without this information, the attorney’s hands are tied and he or she may not be able to help the client gain protection through bankruptcy. Below are some things you’ll nee to prepare for your attorney to get your bankruptcy off to a smooth start.
Bring Your Documents
If you are considering bankruptcy, we will need to see the following documents to start out:
- income tax returns for any party who will be filing for bankruptcy from the past four years
- pay stubs showing 60 days of income for any party who will be filing for bankruptcy (if you do not keep these, check with the human resources personnel at your work)
- records of any additional income or income from spouse
- any correspondence from creditors, including mortgage companies
- any debt collection correspondence
- letters from other attorneys involving debts or law suits that might contribute to your overall debt
- any documents regarding alimony, maintenance, or child support payments
- any documents regarding judgments, liens, or garnishments
It is also a good idea to know the amount of equity that you have in any property that you may want to shield from creditors.
Estimate Your Monthly Expenses
It is crucial to have an idea of what you spend each month and to break it down into components such as food, health care, insurance, housing, etc. If you have unusual fixed expenses such as costly prescription medications or medical devices please tell the bankruptcy attorney and be prepared to provide documentation.
Foreclosure = Emergency
In Atlanta, Georgia, foreclosures are scheduled on the first Tuesday of every month. Waiting until the last minute to file bankruptcy is a risky proposition if your home is scheduled for foreclosure. If your home is in danger of foreclosure please contact a qualified bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible. If a possible foreclosure is involved, the guidelines described above are especially important due to the fact that missing paperwork can prevent your attorney from filing the bankruptcy in time to save your home.
Get Credit Counseling Out of the Way
Mandatory credit counseling is one of the 2005 changes to the bankruptcy code. You are required to complete a session within 180 days prior to filing for bankruptcy. If you are sure that you are going to file for bankruptcy and you have a small window of time to do it in (such as in the case of foreclosure) you can go ahead and complete the required counseling by phone or online prior to your initial consultation. It costs around $50 and there are many companies that offer it.
Following these guidelines will help your bankruptcy attorney provide the best possible representation. For a free initial consultation, please contact CMC Law by calling 404.585.0040 or send us a message online.
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