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Get your documentation in order before consulting an attorney

Often when people seek the advice of a bankruptcy attorney, they don’t really know where to begin describing their situation. They just know that their debt has gotten out of control. However, if you’re considering contacting an attorney, you can make the most of that first meeting by having your financial records in order so that the attorney can make an informed recommendation regarding how best to move forward with which type of bankruptcy (usually Chapter 7 or Chapter 13), if you decide to file.

You should provide as much documentation as possible concerning all of your assets and debts. Documentation for assets will include:

— Property and vehicle titles and leases

— Receipts, canceled checks and other records showing your purchases over the past year

— Bank and other financial statements

— Promissory notes or other proof that others owe you money

— Insurance policies

— Documentation of your income

— Orders for spousal and/or child support due you

Documentation for debts will include:

— Recent bills, loan payment coupons and bank statements

— Court orders for required payments you owe such as spousal and child support

— Records of judgments you’ve been ordered to pay as the result of litigation or other documentation of lawsuits even if there’s not yet a judgment or settlement

— Promissory notes showing that you owe someone money

You’ll also want to bring copies of the past three years’ worth of tax returns, as well as any correspondence to and from creditors.

Your attorney may provide you with his or her own list of documentation to bring. If in doubt, it’s better to bring too much than not enough. For many of us, much of our financial information is stored online. If that’s the case, it’s probably a good idea to bring your laptop so that your information is easily accessible as you and your attorney discuss your situation and determine how best to proceed.

Source: FindLaw, “Checklist: Documents To Show To Your Bankruptcy Attorney,” accessed Sep. 21, 2016

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