Your Initial Bankruptcy Consultation: Bankruptcy Filers in Atlanta, Georgia Should Prepare
Considering filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 in Atlanta Georgia? People often consult a bankruptcy lawyer at their lowest point. By the time that they enter the attorney’s office, they have often felt out of control of their finances and their lives for months or even years. They are embarrassed, stressed and emotionally battered from seemingly endless harassment by creditors or the threat of foreclosure, garnishment or repossession. For many, making the call and coming in for the initial consultation may be one of the most difficult things that they will face in their entire lives because it forces them to face the reality of their financial situation. It forces them to admit that they are in trouble.
Despite this, in order to provide help an attorney must be able to ascertain the exact nature of the potential client’s financial problems through information provided by the client. Without this information, the attorney’s hands are tied and he or she may not be able to help the client gain protection through bankruptcy. Below are some guidelines to help you help your attorney and get your bankruptcy off to a smooth start.
1. BRING YOUR DOCUMENTS. If you are considering bankruptcy we will need to see the following documents to start out: income tax returns for any party who will be filing for bankruptcy from the past four years; pay stubs showing 60 days of income for any party who will be filing for bankruptcy (if you do not keep these check with the human resources personnel at your work); records of any additional income or income from spouse; any correspondence from creditors including mortgage companies; any debt collection correspondence; letters from other attorneys involving debts or law suits that might contribute to your overall debt; any documents regarding alimony, maintenance or child support payments; any documents regarding judgments, liens or garnishments. It is also a good idea to know the amount of equity that you have in any property that you may want to shield from creditors.
2. ESTIMATE YOUR MONTHLY EXPENSES. It is crucial to have an idea of what you spend each month and to break it down into components such as food, health care, insurance, housing, etc. If you have unusual fixed expenses such as costly prescription medications or medical devices please tell the attorney and be prepared to provide documentation.
3. FORECLOSURE=EMERGENCY. In Atlanta, Georgia, foreclosures are scheduled on the first Tuesday of every month. Waiting until the last minute to file bankruptcy is a risky proposition if your home is scheduled for foreclosure. If your home is in danger of foreclosure please contact a qualified bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible. If a possible foreclosure is involved the guidelines described above are especially important due to the fact that missing paperwork can prevent your attorney from filing the bankruptcy in time to save your home.
4. GET CREDIT COUNSELING OUT OF THE WAY. Mandatory credit counseling is one of the 2005 changes to the bankruptcy code. You are required to complete a session within 180 days prior to filing for bankruptcy. If you are sure that you are going to file for bankruptcy and you have a small window of time to do it in (such as in the case of foreclosure) you can go ahead and complete the required counseling by phone or online prior to your initial consultation. It costs around $50 and there are many companies that offer it. We often use Credability which can be accessed at http://www.credability.com/en/homepage.aspx.
Following these guidelines will help your attorney provide the best possible representation. For a free initial consultation please contact the Law Offices of Charles Clapp at 404.585.0040.