Once you’ve scheduled an appointment with a bankruptcy attorney, many find that the debilitating stress associated with the financial trouble lightens immediately. This is particularly true if you feel prepared for your first consultation.
What to Do Before Your First Consultation with a Bankruptcy Attorney:
- Do You Have an ID? Certain things will be required by bankruptcy law when you file. Make sure you have proper ID (eg. a driver’s license or passport), and you will also need to verify your social security number, so along with your proper government issued picture ID, bring your social security card, and w-2, or a copy of your tax return. If, for some reason, you do not have either of these items, reach out to your attorney to warn them, and immediately attempt to obtain them so you have them ready when it’s time to file.
- Gather Proof of Income: When filing bankruptcy, filers are required to provide proof of their average monthly gross income (including all sources of income) for the last 6 months (beginning with the 1st month before the bankruptcy case is filed). Bring your proof of income with you to your first consultation including pay stubs or other records showing your income for the previous 7 months. Proof of income should include all employment, tips, child support, spousal support, commissions, bonuses, payments made by a roommate or other person sharing living expenses, any rental income, social security payments, unemployment, retirement income, interest, etc.
- Print Bank Statements: If you don’t already have them available, print your last two months worth of bank statements or other monthly statements from any credit union or financial institutions where you maintain an account.
- Gather Tax Returns: Bring your tax returns for the last 2 years with you to your first consultation with a bankruptcy attorney. If you have not filed one or both of these tax returns, do so as soon as possible. You will encounter problems if you are not up to speed in your tax return filings. Come to your appointment anyway and discuss your tax return issues with your attorney.
Determine Household Expenses: Make sure you know your household expenses. Make a detailed list to take with you to your consultation including: mortgage or rent, all utility services (electric, gas, propane, water, sewage, garbage, etc.), telephone service, internet service, cable or TV service, home maintenance costs, average food and clothing expenses, laundry and dry cleaning expenses, medical, dental, transportation, entertainment, membership fees, charitable contributions, homeowners insurance, renters insurance, health insurance, auto insurance, property taxes, spousal support, child support, pet care, tuition, etc.
Debt Statements: Just as you gathered statements for the financial accounts you hold at different financial institutions, you need to gather statements for all your credit accounts including credit cards, medical debt, auto loans, mortgages, personal loans, jewelry loans, furniture loans, judgments, etc.
Gather Other Property Documents: If you have any other property, you’ll need to bring documentation of that, as well. For example, stocks, mutual funds, 401k’s, IRAs, other retirement assets, etc.
We understand that financial struggle is difficult, and we want to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact Ken Rannick. Most bankruptcy offices in the Chattanooga area don’t have a single Consumer Bankruptcy Specialist on staff. Our bankruptcy law office is the only one with two. You are in good hands with Kenneth C. Rannick P.C.