Using a Bankruptcy Attorney
Dealing with debt and bankruptcy can be confusing and sometimes utterly overwhelming, especially when you’re faced with financial insolvency. FindLaw's broad collection of bankruptcy and debt-related articles is a good place to start when you want to learn more about the process, but sometimes it’s in your best interests to consult with an attorney. This section contains helpful information about using a bankruptcy attorney, including sample intake questionnaires. Topics and resources include a primer on how a bankruptcy attorney can help in certain situations, a checklist of materials to bring with you to your first attorney consultation, and a sample bankruptcy attorney intake form.
Get Legal Help for Bankruptcy or Debt
It may be counterintuitive to pay someone to help with your financial crisis, but even when you have serious debt issues professional assistance can mean the difference between a setback and a total loss. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you preserve valuable assets or avoid bankruptcy altogether. Although there is no legal obligation to retain an attorney when you go into bankruptcy the outcome of a bankruptcy action will have serious impacts for many years to come and professional assistance can help you avoid pitfalls and enable you to exercise rights, where they exist. Bankruptcy law is a complicated and ever-changing system that makes knowledgeable assistance a practical necessity.
An experienced bankruptcy attorney will assess your case and explain the options you have available. This should cover everything from bankruptcy to more informal debt relief actions. This may include communicating with your creditors, establishing a debt "workout" agreement, or filing for one of several different forms of bankruptcy. Attorneys owe their clients a duty to pursue their legal rights and protect their interests zealously. Since bankruptcy cases can involve multiple parties and years of litigation it can be a personal comfort to have someone who understands the system and is on your side.
Documents to Show Your Bankruptcy Attorney
When you are hiring an attorney to assist with your bankruptcy case it is important to provide them with the information they need to best advise and represent you. Although every person's financial life is different there are some basic documents that are virtually always helpful in better understanding your financial position. When you are first meeting with a bankruptcy attorney to consult the documents you bring with you will help determine how clearly and confidently the attorney can discuss your situation. Examples of important documents include, but are not limited to:
- bank statements
- your most recent bill from each creditor
- record of your most recent payments on cars, real estate, and student loans
- bills or invoices for purchases in the past year
- files from previous litigation, including judgments
- files from previous attorneys
- divorce decrees, child support orders, and information about other financial obligations
- canceled checks for any undocumented expenses
- correspondence with creditors
- insurance policies
- tax returns for the past three years
- vehicle titles
- lease or mortgage documents
- promissory notes
- proof of any other debts you owe, or monies owed to you