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What to Expect When You Meet with a Bankruptcy Lawyer and What to Bring With You


Meeting a bankruptcy lawyer isn't scary

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When people call our office and schedule an initial consultation, they are usually frustrated, scared and stressed out about their debt. If there’s a foreclosure in the works, these emotions can be even more extreme because the thought of losing your home is devastating. On top of all of this, many people are unnecessarily nervous about coming in for their initial appointment. You may fear that you will be scrutinized and criticized. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you are ready to come in and take the first step toward a financial fresh start, here’s what to expect from your free consultation and what you need to bring with you…

Step 1 – Your Story

So that we can best help you, we must understand how you got into financial trouble. You’ll need to tell us your story. If your dilemma was caused by a medical situation, divorce, job loss or just bad money management, we need to know. We won’t judge you or the decisions you made. We need this information for two reasons. First, so we can advise you on the best course of action (chapter 7 versus chapter 13) and second, so we can help you avoid a future financial fiasco.

Be sure to list all debts in bankruptcy

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Step 2 – Your Debts

We also need to know what you owe and to whom. You can’t hold back on anything and here’s why. First, when you’re looking to bankruptcy for a debt relief solution, leaving out any of your debts limits the relief you’ll get. Second, there is a means test we have to look at to establish which type(s) of bankruptcy you qualify for. Providing an accurate accounting of all of your debts will allow us to get you the best resolution.

Step 3 – Your Income

Very importantly, we must know exactly how much money comes into your household each month and what the sources of that income are. Nothing should be excluded in this conversation – even money that’s loaned to you. We need to know this for informational purposes and for the means test, but we will only include income legally required to be counted in your petition. It’s also critical to understand that hiding any income can get you into trouble, so be honest with us so we can get you the best results.

Step 4 – Your Assets

We will ask you to tell us what you own – a house, cars, recreational vehicles and any other assets. But don’t panic. North Carolina offers very reasonable exemptions that should allow you to keep all of your possessions. Filing bankruptcy doesn’t mean that someone is going to haul off your car and flat screen TV. The only assets that may be at risk are those with high value and a lot of equity. There’s little to worry about here as long as you are honest.

Bankruptcy petition

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Step 5 – Your Solution

After listening carefully so that we can form an accurate picture of your financial situation, we will make a recommendation. Typically, this will be either a chapter 7 or a chapter 13 bankruptcy unless you really aren’t a good fit for any bankruptcy. We will explain the pros, cons and differences between the two types of consumer bankruptcy, tells us which we think is preferable for your situation and why. From there, you’ll decide what path to pursue. Once you make the decision, we’ll be ready to get you started on the road to a financial reboot.

What You Need to Bring to Your Appointment

After we make our recommendation, you may want to take some time to think about what course of action you want to pursue, but what’s more common is that clients are ready to file their bankruptcy petition the same day they come in because this offers instant relief. The moment we file, you no longer have to talk to debt collectors and they must legally cease all contact. Just in case you decide to pull the trigger and file the same day you come for your free consultation, here are a list of documents you should bring with you:

  • ID: Driver’s license, social security card
  • Debts: List of who you owe or the most recent statements from each of your creditors that shows your account number and balance due
  • Income: Last two years of tax returns, most recent paycheck stub
  • Expenses: List of your monthly expenses (rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance premiums, etc)
  • Foreclosure: If you are facing foreclosure, bring in letters and documents related to this

Contact the law offices of John Orcutt today for a free consultation on your debt situation to find out how we can help you get a financial fresh start. We have several convenient locations all across North Carolina to choose from. Don’t wait – call us now!

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