General information about bankruptcy is available online, and some people prefer to do preliminary research before making their first contact with a lawyer. However, in bankruptcy, what happens depends on the circumstances of the individual debtor. Also, to some extent, issues are handled differently depending on which judge or which trustee is assigned. Thus, it is not the case that “one size fits all”. Local knowledge and expertise is important to get the best result in your case.
We have local knowledge and expertise, and most people prefer to call us or walk into our office to discuss their situation. We can give you informative answers so long as you understand that results depend on all of the facts taken as a whole, and not just on selected facts taken in isolation. You will need to do an in-person interview to actually prepare a case for filing.
In general, any bankruptcy petition requires that you provide information about your assets and your debts and about your income and your expenses. Information about your “assets” includes values of real estate, cars, and other personal property, whether paid for or not. We often use tax appraisals for values of real estate, and we look up N.A.D.A. values for vehicles. Values assigned to things like household furnishings are more like estimates. We help you with this.
Information about income and expenses is very important. We have to provide copies of “pay advices” where possible to back up what is said in your “budget” about your income, and we have to provide the most recently filed tax return. The court can and will require you to file tax returns if you should have filed but did not. The trustees may want proof of other types of income like social security, government assistance, or even support from family members. Sometimes, but not always, we are allowed to use an affidavit (a sworn statement) as “proof” of income where no other proof exists.
Information about expenses is usually clear with regard to the rent or mortgage you pay, or with regard to things like car insurance. Amounts budgeted food and transportation expenses are not so clearly defined, and depend on factors such as household size and how much you drive.
Once you come into our office, we have simple forms for you to fill out. We answer questions at that time if a question is not clear to you. A paralegal then types your information into an official format. You will have a generous amount of time to talk privately with the lawyer to explore your particular situation and options. We always try to do the job right the first time to reduce worries and uncertainties later on down the line.
We do not charge fees unless you file the case. If you decide to file, you will need to do “credit counseling”, which is a statutory requirement. This is done in the office by internet, and a secretary guides you through the process. The cost of credit counseling is included with any other fees you pay.
Please call us at 770-683-3303 to discuss your particular situation. With our help, starting the process will be less stressful and easier than what you might think.