What do I need to bring to my appointment?

So, you’ve called your bankruptcy lawyer and set up an appointment.  Many bankruptcy firms, including our firm, offer free first appointments.  It’s a free appointment, you say, so why do I need to bring anything in?  Think about it this way, time is money.

You want to get the most “bang for your buck” so to speak.  So, the more information you bring in, the more you’ll get from your appointment.  I’ve had people come in for their first consultation, not knowing who they owe money to, and, not knowing how much money they make each month.    Or, I’ve had business owners come in, but they don’t know  which companies their business owes, and which companies they owe.   Without information, I’d be able to have  good conversation, but we wouldn’t be able to get very far into your financial situation.  Usually, if you call our office, we’ll tell you what to bring in, so we can have a productive meeting.

Here’s what you need to get together for your appointment, to get the most out of your appointment:

  • Your State ID or Drivers’ license,
  • social security card,
  • your pay stubs, or proof of any income from the last 6 months (this could be a social security statement, or copies of unemployment checks if you aren’t working) Also, proof of any income for your husband or wife, even if they aren’t filing, because we need to review your whole family’s situation.
  • your tax returns from the last 4 years
  • information on who you owe. The information on who you owe could be a list, with names, addresses, and approximate amounts owed, or it could be just one bill from each company.  You should try to find as much of this information as you can.  If you don’t have all of it, don’t worry, there are ways to fill in the rest.   The key is to bring in as much as you can find.
  • If’ you have been sued or are suing anyone: bring in any lawsuit papers you have.  For example, if there is a garnishment on your check, call your payroll department to get a copy of the papers they got.
  • If you own a house, or any real estate: you’ll need to bring in a quick value of the property, and a copy of a recent mortgage statement. If you are in foreclosure, you need to bring in a copy of the foreclosure complaint (the large package that probably was dropped off at your house by the sherrif).   How do you get a quick value of the property.  You can start by entering in your address on a site such as www.zillow.com, to get an idea of what the area values would be.  At some later time in your case, we may have to get a more detailed analysis from a real estate broker or appraiser, but for the first appointment, this will usually be fine.
  • If you own a car or truck, and are making payments to a bank or finance company, we will need a statement or printout of the balance owed, and, if you can find them, the original finance papers.
  • If you own a business, we’ll need to know which loans the business owes, and more detailed information about the business, its tax returns from the last 2 years, and a list of its owners, and what the business owns.  We’ll also need to know how much the business is making right now, such as the gross sales each month, and the expenses each month for the last 6 months. You can call us for the specifics on business documents.

Bottom line:  bring in enough papers so we can figure out what’s going on in your financial life. Then we can give you the best advice about what to do.

Daniel J. Winter
Offices in Chicago, Oak Lawn, Skokie, and Gurnee, Illinois