The simplest answer is to consult with an attorney skilled in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Often attorneys will do a free brief initial consultation or charge a minimal fee for a consultation. Even if there is a charge, the time spent learning how to prepare to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will pay you dividends in the long run.
Each attorney has their own method of handling cases. This blog posting will describe what you can expect from Beacon Law Offices working with you to address your bankruptcy needs. The initial contact from a new client is generally over the telephone with a brief conversation as to their current financial status and problems.
When there is a mutual agreement to proceed with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy a packet of forms will be mailed to the clients. The largest form is an intake form the client will fill in, describing their debts, assets, income, expenses and providing other information necessary to prepare the bankruptcy petition. The second form is a Fee Agreement setting out the legal services to be provided and the cost of those services. Finally, a letter setting out in detail what actions the client needs to take to prepare for the filing in their circumstances is enclosed with the packet.
If you are contemplating filing bankruptcy, you should be saving all bills and notices from collection agencies which are to be provided to the attorney. Usually the address to which the bankruptcy notice is to be sent is in very small print hidden in all the jargon on the back of your billing statements. The address to which the bankruptcy notice is to be sent is not the same address as the address to which payments are sent. Any collection agency which has contacted you regarding a specific bill also has to be provided notice of the bankruptcy. Also, if you have been sued by any collection agency or creditor, you will need to provide the court documents to the attorney.
Additionally you should be collecting all papers regarding your assets. If you own a home, the tax bill, escrow statement and a copy of your mortgage will be needed by the attorney. Any secured loans (loans tied to a specific asset) such as a car loan, you will need to provide the attorney with a copy of the registration, loan papers and payment schedule.
Your income documents also need to be provided to the attorney. If you are employed by someone else, you will need to supply pay stubs covering the last eight weeks of your earnings. If you are self-employed, you will need to provide monthly profit and loss statements for the last six months. If you are on social security, disability or are retired, you will need to provide documentation relative to your income. Additionally, you will need to provide your tax returns, with all schedules, W-2s and 1099s for the last three years to the attorney.
Your specific financial situation may require that you supply additional and/or different documents to the attorney. This is why the initial consultation with the bankruptcy attorney is important – so your particular financial issues can be addressed in the manner to best suit your situation.
Gathering the documents/information necessary to get started on obtaining a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may sound difficult but once the process is started, you will most likely find you have everything you need. Beacon Law Office is ready to work with you in evaluating your financial issues, guide you through document gathering and help you with the best resolution of your financial issues for you and your family. Please give Beacon Law Offices a call at 207.710.0250 for professional attention on an individual basis. I look forward to working with you.