First and foremost, you should consult with an attorney before you file for bankruptcy. You should, in fact, consult with an attorney before taking any steps towards bankruptcy. An individual may file for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy without an attorney, or pro se, but it is not recommended. There are intricate requirements and serious consequences to a bankruptcy filing. True, a bankruptcy filing may be the answer to your problems. But if you file a bankruptcy improperly you could cost yourself thousands of dollars in legal fees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost assets.
For the sake of this article we will presume you will hire an attorney. Perhaps you met this attorney through NYbankruptcy.com and now are attending your “free consultation”. What can you expect?
The purpose of your meeting is to decide whether filing for bankruptcy is a viable option. In order for your attorney to make this decision he must analyze your entire financial situation. You need to provide your last two years tax returns, last sixty days pay-stubs, last sixty days bank statements and copies of all other financial accounts. Make the most of your “free” consultation and have these documents with you.
In addition to your income you should have a list of all of your assets. Bankruptcy law requires that you disclose everything from clothing to furniture so provide that information to your lawyer. Not only will you save time, but you will protect your assets. Bankruptcy law provide for exemptions that cover certain assets. It is, literally, impossible for your attorney to know what collectibles you may own or whether you have a car under your name for your child. Be proactive. The more information you provide the better your attorney may perform.
Your list of creditors is just as important as your list of assets. There are three (3) basic categories for creditors: Secured, Priority and Unsecured. Without getting into the discussion of which creditors are which, what is most important is that all creditors are notified of the bankruptcy filing. The last thing you want as a debtor is to hear from a creditor a year after you file and be told they never received notice.
Tell your attorney everything. Even the smallest detail can make the biggest difference.
You may be advised by a friend or some other person that lying about an asset will let you keep it or that excluding some credit card will help, but I assure you this is not the case. You should also keep in mind that your will be interviewed, under oath, by a Trustee working for the U.S. Government. It is one thing to conceal the truth from your own attorney in his conference room. It is quite another to try and lie to a federal attorney in a federal court house.
Follow Your Attorney’s Counsel.
This is not an attempt to vouch for every attorney practicing law. However, you came to your attorney for a reason. Your attorney, hopefully, practices in the area of bankruptcy law. This process is not new to them. You may be confused or anxious, but that is expected. And that is why you retained your attorney. If you feel that your attorney is not doing the right job or you have lost confidence then substitute your counsel. But, do not ignore counsel and act on your own. That will almost certainly cause problems if not a disaster.
These three basics will help prepare you for what you need to expect from yourself. Filing for bankruptcy is a serious process, but with proper counsel and management, including managing yourself, it can bring you the “fresh start” you need and suggest working with a Top New York Company.