If you are considering filing a bankruptcy case, contact an attorney’s office for an initial consultation. Most lawyers’ offices offer a free initial consultation in which the different types of bankruptcy filings are explained. You will leave with a packet containing the documents you must gather in order to enable the lawyer to prepare your case for filing. If you are married, you should bring your spouse to that initial consultation even if your spouse is not planning on filing the bankruptcy case with you. We also ask non-filing spouses to attend the second session in which the bankruptcy paperwork is complied and filed. Attending these sessions lets both spouses understand the bankruptcy process, understand the impact that the filing has on both the filing and non-filing spouse and helps the lawyer makes sure that the bankruptcy paperwork is prepared accurately.
In order to file a bankruptcy case, you will need to bring the following documents to your attorney:
- Both you and your spouses’ pay stubs for the six months preceding the filing of your case;
- The last two years income tax returns that you have filed;
- The last six months of bank statements on all of your checking and savings accounts;
- Copies of any lawsuits that have been filed by you or against you;
- Any divorce decrees entered in the past five years.
Depending on the specifics of your case, more documents may also be required. However, these are the basic documents that are need to prepare bankruptcy cases. You should start collecting these documents now so that you have them ready to deliver to your attorney when you decide to file your bankruptcy case.
Your attorney will also give you a questionnaire in which you list all of your assets and all of your debts. Your bankruptcy paperwork is signed by you under the penalty of perjury and you must include all of your assets and all of your liabilities. Don’t try to hide assets from your attorney. It is better to disclose all of your assets to your attorney who can then advise you as to whether they are exempt or if there is any problem retaining them. Lying on your bankruptcy paperwork can be a very serious problem.