If you've never met with an attorney, you might be unsure what a consultation with an attorney looks like. You're probably already stressed about the financial burden on your shoulders. At The Bankruptcy Company, we work hard to ease that stress and help you navigate the decision to file bankruptcy. Here are ten things to know about meeting with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys in St. Louis.
- First, call and set up an appointment.
Most good attorneys won’t give you advice over the phone. Filing bankruptcy is a bit like visiting the doctor for a broken leg. You wouldn’t want to get advice over the phone. You want him to examine your leg. Same thing with your finances. You want to ask a few questions though. Ask if there is an initial free consultation (many attorneys will charge a fee for the first appointment). Ask how long it lasts (some are only 15 minutes long). Ask if there are any strings attached, do you have to commit on the day of your appointment or can you consider your options. At TBC we offer a free one-hour appointment which often stretches longer to meet with our staff to review your situation and discuss your alternatives. It is completely non-binding and there is no obligation. We prefer our clients to think about their options before filing bankruptcy.
- At the appointment, bring as much information as you can easily find.
Generally, it is helpful to bring in as many paycheck stubs as you can find, your tax returns, bills, and bank records. It’s not necessary to bring them all in, but it will help your attorney get a better picture of your situation. Kind of like going into a doctor’s office with a list of your prescriptions and your x-rays.
- At the appointment, the attorney’s staff will have you fill out some paperwork with some basic information.
Under the law, the attorney should also be giving you some additional information that sets out your rights and explains the different types of bankruptcy. Some law firms require you to fill out a lengthy questionnaire before you meet with an attorney. We don’t. Our attorneys will go through a questionnaire with you.
- Understand the cost of bankruptcy.
Before the end of the appointment, or at the very least, within 5 business days send you an executed contract that explains the services the attorney can provide and the fees that will be charged. We let our clients know this at the first appointment. If your attorney doesn’t give you this contract within that period, then the contract is arguably unenforceable.
- You will have some homework to do.
You will probably leave the first appointment with a list of additional documents or information your attorney will need if you decide to file a bankruptcy. This may include things like additional paycheck stubs, deeds, checkbook register.
- You will need to meet with us again.
If you decide to file a bankruptcy, you will probably come back in for a second appointment to review the additional information you gathered and to answer your questions. You will have more questions. It’s best to write them down and bring them in to ask your attorney.
- Finalizing paperwork.
If everything is in order at the second appointment, you will be given a final appointment. We usually call this a signing appointment.
- Organizing the mountain of paperwork.
Before that appointment we draft up your documents and ensure them for accuracy. Also, before that appointment you will need to complete a credit counseling class and obtain a certificate. We help organize that for you. Your certificate will be delivered to our office electronically.
- Double check everything.
When you come in, we will review your bankruptcy documents with you to make sure they are accurate and answer any questions you may have. Then your bankruptcy is filed
- After you have filed bankruptcy.
Once your bankruptcy is filed, all your creditors will be notified, and they will all have to cease collecting debts from you. Some minor exceptions apply (like continuing child support) but 99% of your creditors will be stopped. If they violate the law, we can sue them for you in Court for sanctions.