Get Bankruptcy Information Documents Before You Find a Bankruptcy Attorney to File for Bankruptcy
Great bankruptcy attorneys aren’t just up on the law, they are organized. Same goes for the bankruptcy clients. Unfortunately, often folks overwhelmed by debt who fell behind on payments have been avoiding creditors also lose track of their finances. It’s understandable. This is a very stressful and difficult time. Clients are eager to get Bankruptcy relief, especially when they have ignored their situation for a long time and the credit collectors have already sued, received judgments, and are now wrecking havoc with wage garnishments and bank levy. But often those same individuals may lag in providing the basic necessary information and documentation for any competent bankruptcy attorney to assess the case for any possible issues and to create and file not just a petition, but an accurate one with the greatest chance of overcoming any creditor and trustee scrutiny. When it comes to Bankruptcy, like with so many things, garbage in, garbage out.
Bankruptcy practice is very paper intensive. Every jurisdiction has their own set of local rules with respect to procedures and they vary greatly on the type of documentation that must be provided with the bankruptcy petition. Each filed bankruptcy case is assigned to a Bankruptcy Trustee, which typically is an attorney who contracts with the U.S. Trustees Office, an arm of Department of Justice. The Trustee’s job is to ensure accuracy of the petition and find any assets available for distribution to the creditors. Not only does not adhering to the local rules cause annoyance among the Trustees it can cause unneeded stress, delays, and may very well result in potential material mistakes within the petition and dismissal of entire cause if the Trustee claims the case was not filed in good faith.
In the Southern District of California, for example, a Trustee is typically supposed to receive the following documents:
- Income Documentation: Pay stubs and/or a Profit & Loss Statement along with Bank Statements showing all income received and business expenses paid in the 6 months prior to filing of Bankruptcy case.
- Loan Balance Statements: recent and current statements for all loans such as: car loans, car leases, mortgages, and any other secured debt obligations
- Registration for all vehicles and Insurance Declaration pages for vehicles, real estate, and business
- Retirement and any other accounts held at financial institutions for past 6 months
- Last two filed income tax returns
- Valuations on assets such as vehicles, real estate, timeshares, stocks, ownerships in corporations and businesses
Bankruptcy law requires that attorneys use all diligent efforts to ensure that the information presented in the petition is true and accurate. How do we do that? We look at documents. A bankruptcy attorney will more than likely want to review your credit card and bank statements and understand the extent of your assets, debts, income, as well as your real and true living expenses (which means you will need to know how much you spend on: food, transportation, insurance, personal hygiene, charitable contributions, pet care, etc…). This means a client must roll up their sleeves and do their fair share of the work: like taking inventory of their assets. Perhaps it is because no one really wants to file for Bankruptcy that procrastination can be such a problem here.
When you go to your free attorney consultation, keep in mind that he/she is trying to gauge how much time and effort your case will take in deciding how much fee to charge for your particular case. You can negotiate your legal fees. Come to the consultation prepared: armed with information and documents and then ask for a discount. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Kathryn U. Tokarska, Esq. is admitted to practice in State of California. Graduate of California Western School of Law in San Diego, California, Ms. Tokarska concentrated her legal studies in area of Bankruptcy, Estate Planning, Taxation, Securities Regulations, and Real Estate Finance. She has over fourteen years of experience working for major financial investment institutions, offering financial planning services, investment products, wealth building and preservation strategies. Ms. Tokarska holds a Financial Paraplanner certificate, was a licensed stockbroker, and is currently enrolled in an LL.M. in Bankruptcy/Finance at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
For assistance, contact Tokarska Law Center online, by Emailing Us, or by phone (619) 285-1992. We are a FEDERAL DEBT RELIEF AGENCY. We help people file for Bankruptcy Protection under the Federal and State Laws.