If you are considering bankruptcy, then it is time to get your financial house in order. There are records and information your attorney needs to (1) advise you; (2) protect your property and finances; and (3) file your case. Don’t wait until the last minute to grab your checkbook and bills you happen to have lying around. By preparing for your first meeting with your attorney, you save valuable time and your attorney has a clearer picture of how best to serve your interests.
First, make a list of all of your debts. You need paperwork for all of your financial obligations (explained below), but also identify any debts that do not have supporting paper documentation, like an oral contract with a friend or relative.
Second, collect all of your bills, collection notices, and delinquent monthly bills. Your attorney needs the address information from these bills.
Third, get a copy of your credit reports. You can get a free copy of your credit reports from Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union by visiting annualcreditreport.com. These reports contain important debt information, including addresses and balances.
Fourth, collect loan paperwork, including mortgage, car loans, finance companies, payday loans, bank loans, and any other loan documents.
Fifth, print six months of bank statements and two years of income tax returns. Your attorney needs this information for the bankruptcy petition and schedules.
Sixth, gather a copy of your social security card and driver’s license. The bankruptcy trustee must have this information to verify your identity.
Seventh, obtain information on investments, retirement plans, educational savings accounts, and any other financial savings.
Eighth, collect six months of income information including pay stubs, business records, social security records, pension statements, etc.
Your attorney will ask for additional information and documentation. The items described above are important first step in providing your attorney with a clear understanding of your finances. With this information, your attorney can advise you whether to pursue a debt settlement path, Chapter 7, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.