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How to Prepare for Bankruptcy Consultation
Consulting with a bankruptcy lawyer can help you resume a normal life
No one is perfect and even if you do everything right, you may experience financial difficulties that seem like they will never end. If you feel like you can never get ahead and cannot cope with collection calls and threats of lawsuits, it’s time to contact a bankruptcy attorney. Most bankruptcy attorneys provide a free initial bankruptcy consultation that lasts 30-60 minutes. To make the most of your time with your lawyer, you should do some preparation before the meeting.
Write down your questions and concerns before the meeting
A lot of people get nervous before they meet with an attorney and as a result forget to ask some questions. If you write down your questions and concerns ahead of time, you’re less likely to be nervous about the meeting. At a minimum, be sure to ask your attorney the following questions:
- Is bankruptcy a good idea for me? Are there alternatives I should consider?
- What can I expect after the bankruptcy filing is complete?
- Can you explain the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy? Which would be good for me and why?
- How much will it cost? What do your fees include? What type of payment do your require?
- How long will the process take?
- Is there anything unusual about my case that may cause issues?
- How can I get bill collectors to stop harassing me?
Your attorney should patiently answer your questions in a friendly, professional manner. If you don’t feel comfortable, you should consult with another lawyer.
Gather relevant paperwork
In addition to asking you questions about your family, income, assets, debts, and insurance, your attorney will want to review some financial records. You should gather copies of the following documents before your initial bankruptcy consultation:
- Your list of questions and concerns
- A copy of a photo ID
- A copy of your credit report
- 7 months of bank statements
- Retirement and investment account statements
- Wage statements
- 2 years of tax returns
- A copy of your life insurance policy
- A list of your creditors (include account numbers and amounts owed)
- Loan documentation for car loans, mortgages, home equity loans, student loans, personal loans, etc.
- A list of your personal property that has significant value and receipts for major purchases such as cars, boats, expensive jewelry, electronics, etc.
- Information about rent, mortgage payments, and other fees related to property you own or rent
- Information about any debt collection, debt consolidation, or debt restructuring activities
Be honest and open with your attorney about your situation
For most people, discussing financial matters is very personal and sensitive. Be sure that you are comfortable communicating with your attorney. For your attorney to do a good job, you’ll need to have a frank and honest discussion about your finances. Your attorney is there to help you and will not make a moral judgement on your circumstances. Let your attorney know if:
- Your wages are being garnished or a creditor took money from your bank account
- You have been served with a lawsuit
- Your home is in foreclosure or you’re being evicted
- If you are late on a car payment and want to avoid having it repossessed
Remember, a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney in New Mexico can advise you on the best course of action based on your particular circumstances. This may be a debt management plan or bankruptcy. In most cases, your lawyer will have experience with many strategies for helping people restore their financial health.
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