If you’re drowning in debt, you may feel embarrassed about the state of your financial affairs – but don’t let that stop you from scheduling a bankruptcy attorney consultation. We’re here to help, not to judge, and we understand how tough it can be to open up about your personal troubles.
Your first bankruptcy attorney consultation offers an opportunity to discuss your financial situation with an experienced legal professional. Based upon the information you provide, your lawyer will determine if declaring bankruptcy is the right decision. To get the best advice, you should prepare for the appointment. Here’s how.
Gather the Documents You Need to Bring
When you schedule a legal consultation, your bankruptcy attorney may provide a list of documents to bring. Before your appointment, we suggest that you take the time to gather the following:
- A copy of your driver’s license and social security card
- Tax returns for the previous two years
- Paystubs and bank statements from the last seven months
- Current mortgage and car loan statements
- An estimate of your vehicle’s current value
- All home foreclosure-related paperwork
- Current retirement and investment account statements
- Life insurance policy information
- Creditor collection letters received within the last three months
If you’re divorced or separated, you should bring a copy of your divorce decree to your attorney consultation. Likewise, you should bring any documents that detail your obligation to pay child support, if applicable. Although you cannot have either alimony or child support discharged in your bankruptcy, your attorney will need to have this information.
Finally, be prepared with information about your assets. This should include high-value assets, such as a boat, trailer or second home. It could be any artwork, jewelry, collectibles, etc. that have value. Even things you might not think about could be considered assets, such as guns. Your lawyer will need a list with the value of each. If you aren’t sure if something you have is an asset, ask your attorney.
Be Ready to Answer the Attorney’s Questions
To provide you with legal advice tailored to your specific situation, your bankruptcy attorney will need a variety of information about you and your financial situation. As you are discussing your situation, the attorney will ask you a series of questions.
Some questions that you can expect are as follows.
- If you’re married
- If you have any children
- If you owe any past-due taxes
- If any creditors have judgments against you
- If your wages are being garnished
- If you’re facing foreclosure or eviction
- If your car is in danger of being repossessed
Your bankruptcy attorney will also need to know what prompted your decision to schedule a consultation and what you hope to accomplish through bankruptcy. For example, your goal might be to stop a foreclosure on your home or keep your car from being repossessed. For many people, their goals are just to get the continuous creditor calls to stop.
Be Prepared for Full Disclosure
It is critical that you are open and honest with your lawyer. Answer their questions honestly and don’t withhold information about your assets. If you do, you could run into a problem with bankruptcy fraud.
Data from the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute indicates that 70% of bankruptcy fraud cases involve the concealment of assets. In many cases, the people who commit this type of fraud don’t realize that they have broken the law – or they don’t believe they will be caught.
In addition to not listing all your assets or undervaluing assets on your bankruptcy petition, the following actions can constitute bankruptcy fraud.
- Filing for bankruptcy in more than one state
- Maxing out your credit cards before filing
- Paying off debts prior to filing a petition
- Providing a false document to the court
- Making a false statement to the court
- Destroying or withholding documents
If you knowingly commit fraud, you could go to prison for up to five years and be subject to monetary fines of up to $250,000.
Write Down a List of Questions to Ask
No doubt you have a great deal of questions about bankruptcy, and it’s a good idea to jot down a list before you meet with a bankruptcy lawyer. Here are a few questions you may want to include:
- Will bankruptcy wipe out all of your debts?
- Will you lose any of your property if you file for bankruptcy?
- Is Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy right for you?
- What are the fees for your bankruptcy services?
- How long will it take to get the debt relief you need?
Schedule a Bankruptcy Attorney Consultation Today
Are you considering filing for bankruptcy in Utah? If so, the Law Office of Davis & Jones, P.C., can help you face your financial troubles and get on the road to debt relief. Contact our Salt Lake City office and schedule a bankruptcy attorney consultation today.