When we meet face to face in my office we take about 1.5 hours on average to analyze, discuss and strategize about your case. It requires only a little preparation to make our meeting productive and complete, and I will tell you exactly how to prepare. I analyze your debts to assets, your income to expense, and your overall financial affairs.
At the meeting I look at your Transunion and Equifax credit reports and other insights given though www.creditkarma.com that gives me all your personal debts, from mortgages, car loans to credit cards. Therefore, if you have only these kinds of debts no preparation from you on your debts is necessary. If you’re already a member, just bring the email you use and the password that you will keep confidential (I pass over the keyboard to you). If you’re not a member, I can sign you up. It’s free and a great service with no spamming advertisements.
This report may not have some medical bills, pay day loans and will not have any business debt. So only those kinds of bills need to be aggregated, at least in name and amount before our initial consultation.
Later on retained clients I pull another credit report that has Experian and Credit Xpert. Credit Xpert is a predictive score of where your credit can be with normal care not to garner further derogatory information and reasonable positive information in the year after you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It also pulls your present score. So you can see if filing Chapter 7 will help or hurt your credit and by exactly how much. Because your discharge is many years out in a Chapter 13 it cannot predict how that will affect your credit.
Almost no preparation is needed for your assets. You already know what they are in their general contours. Bringing in insurance papers, 401K and brokerage statements and the like is further along in the preparation of a case. For the initial consultation it suffices to know the approximate value of your financial accounts, the mileage on your car as far as preparation goes. The rest you’ll know off the top of your head. I usually go through every possible thing you could own with a fine tooth comb.
The only other thing that we’ll probably have discussed already on the phone in our first contact is the value of your real property if you have any. If you don’t have any idea of the value of your home we start with www.eppraisal.com. We then refine that value as needed later on if you decide to file as the case progresses.
If you are employed for a living, then we get your last two month paycheck stubs if they are available. Later we’ll need to evaluate a 6-month period, but the last two months is usually indicative enough for us to see what your income is like. We compare that with the YTD (year to date) income and see if there is any discrepancy and we need to look further.
If your self-employed we will either need some accounting, such as your Profit & Loss Statement or if you don’t have that, then your bank statements for the business.
ANALYZING YOUR EXPENSES
We need to find out what it costs you to live on a monthly basis. That includes all your payments for housing, food, utilities and a variety of other basic expenses. It does not include payment on the debts you will likely discharge in your bankruptcy.
This requires the most preparation, usually 15 -30 minutes to prepare a first draft of your monthly expenses. We send you a spreadsheet, or you can download it right here from this website just below at the end of this page. It contains the exact categories that we need to know about in one column and we put $0.01 in the column to the right. You replace the $0.01 amount with the actual amounts expended. This column tallies itself. Just email it back to us and bring a printed page to the meeting as a backup.
ANALYZING YOUR FINANCIAL AFFAIRS
This requires no preparation. I simply interview you to figure out if there is anything other than the categories above that will impact your case. As we discuss your situation and your goals it usually brings up all the major and unusual aspects of your case that don’t fit neatly into the categories of debts to assets and income to expenses.
I compare what can be done in a bankruptcy to your goals. All my clients have preferences that need to be considered just as much as their situation or the law. No plan would be worthwhile unless your goals are integrated into that plan. That’s not to say I can design a case where there are not costs and benefits to weigh. Rather, we do that weighing and make the decisions that best get us to where you want to end up.
Unless we don’t have some facts that our decision hinges on, you will know exactly what my advice is at the end of our consultation. I will explain to you the bankruptcy process in detail. If there are any risks I am concerned about I will let you know what they are.
It is important that you let me know all your concerns at this meeting so I can address them and you can make an informed decision. Once you know me you’ll find I am very interested in finding not just a solution but the best solution for your situation.
My law office provides the resources you need right at your fingertips, including a convenient form that enables you to review and analyze your monthly expenses at a glance.
Note: This Excel spreadsheet is preferred as it calculates.