"What do I bring to my first meeting with the attorney?"

I get this question all the time. The answer depends on how quickly you are going to want to get filed. Of course, it never hurts to bring everything your attorney will need to get your documents completed. The more documents you have, the better your attorney can assess your situation and give you a breakdown of what bankruptcy can do for you. I have attached a good list, but your attorney will probably have a complete list of what will be needed, just ask with a brief email.

However, many clients simply bring themselves. A good bankruptcy attorney has a questionnaire to ask you all the necessary questions when you meet. My office, just as any experienced bankruptcy firm, will have a checklist and packet for you to fill out if the best choice is bankruptcy.

Here’s a list for the overachiever or person that wants to get filed right away. These will likely be needed before you can file your case, but not crucial to that first meeting:

  • Pay stubs for the past nine months. Every pay stub is necessary for your attorney to do the proper math on whether you qualify for bankruptcy.
  • Credit reports. Three bureaus are best, found at www.annualcreditreport.com. You can bring a Credit Karma or other company report, but the important thing with creditors is notice. Make sure the credit report has full name of the creditor and the mailing address, and if a creditor is not on the reports be sure your attorney has that creditor in the documents. If you cannot access your credit report or don’t want to, simply set aside some money for your attorney to download the credit report.
  • Collection statements. Any mailings from any creditors is helpful. Stack up creditor statements and only keep the most current.
  • Judgments. You could go to the courthouse of your county and search your name to find any judgments if you don’t already have them or they don’t show up on your credit report.
  • Last filed tax returns, both IRS and state
  • Most recent loan statement for any car, home loan, or other secured loan.
  • Kelley blue book private party & trade-in value printout for each vehicle owned. Getting accurate values for all secured items is vital in bankruptcy.
  • Divorce order for any divorce in the past eight years.
  • Profit and loss for any business for the past twelve months. Break them into monthly statements.

All of these are important to getting the case filed. Don’t stress if you don’t have them yet, speak with your attorney about the timetable on getting them.

The important thing about the first meeting is that you show up ready to discuss your situation and bring what you have. Don’t stress about the meeting, it’s like talking to a friendly neighbor. That neighbor just happens to be an attorney that can help you get free from debt and help you get back to financial freedom.