Out of all the different types of legal proceedings, bankruptcy is one of the most document-intensive.  This is because a bankruptcy attorney needs to review the person’s financial background thoroughly before determining whether filing for bankruptcy is a legal option.  After the decision to file has been made, even more documents may be required in order to determine what type of bankruptcy is necessary.

Here’s a basic checklist of documents that you should bring during the first meetings with a bankruptcy lawyer: 

  • Financial documents, such as bank account statements, receipts for major purchases, wage statements, and tax returns
  • A list of your creditors, including their contact information, account numbers, and the amount you owe them
  • Documents relating to any outstanding loans that you may have, including mortgages, car loans, and other major loans
  • A listing of major personal property items that might be subject to repossession, such as automobiles, boats, expensive jewelry, appliances, and electronic items
  • Information related to real property that you own or rent
  • For business bankruptcy, you may need to bring additional documentation, including company balance sheets, budget reports, financial statements, and a list of company property. 
  • A list of any questions that you may have for your attorney

This last point is very important.  Be sure to take note of any questions, legal inquiries, or laws that you may wish to address with your attorney.  There’s really no such thing as being too prepared when meeting with a lawyer.  In fact, the more issues that you come prepared to discuss, the easier the bankruptcy proceedings tend to be as they progress. 

What if I Can’t Find a Document or if I Forgot To Bring One?

In this type of situation, it’s important that you don’t panic.  Usually, the court will give you some time to gather the different documents and resources that will be used during the bankruptcy proceeding.  This will give you a chance to communicate with other parties such as banks, employers, lenders, etc., to obtain the documents that you need.

If you can’t find a document, or if you forgot to bring an important document to a meeting with your lawyer, you should inform your attorney so that they can take note and take the appropriate action to help you.  For example, your attorney might be able to locate another document that could serve a similar purpose. 

The main thing is that you want to avoid any instances of fraud or “hiding” assets or documents.  If you have made a good faith, reasonable effort to locate a document, you likely won’t have any problems in terms for fraud or misrepresentation. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Bankruptcy Proceedings?

The expert advice and guidance of a lawyer are generally needed for filing a bankruptcy claim.  Bankruptcy proceedings typically involve an in-depth investigation into all of a person’s finances, assets, and properties, which can get complicated at times.  It’s in your best interests to work closely with a lawyer when preparing for a bankruptcy filing.  This can help the process to run more smoothly, and may help to recognize which debts may be discharged or forgiven.