During our initial consultation, we analyze 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 expenses, and your overall financial affairs.
LOOK AT YOUR DEBTS
We look at your credit report to analyze your personal debts, including credit cards, car loans, and mortgages. The credit report may not have some medical bills, fast money loans, or business debt. So only those kinds of bills need to be collected if you have them.
Note: If you become a retained client, we will provide a report from Credit Xpert that will give you a predictive score of where your credit can be in the year after you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, IF you take care not to garner further negative marks on your credit. So you can see if filing for bankruptcy will help or hurt your credit and by how much. Because your discharge is many years out in a Chapter 13 it cannot predict how that will affect your credit.
LOOK AT YOUR ASSETS
For the initial case evaluation, it is OK to know just the approximate value of your assets, including homes, cars, brokerage statements, and personal belongings. 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 a site such as www.zillow.com. We then refine that value as needed later on if you decide to file as the case progresses.
LOOK AT YOUR INCOME
First, you provide your last two months’ pay stubs. Further along in your bankruptcy case, we’ll need to look at a 6-month period. We compare that with the YTD (year to date) income and see if there are any issues.
If you are a business owner or entrepreneur, we will need to take a look at your Profit & Loss Statement or if you don’t have that, then your bank statements for the business.
LOOK AT YOUR EXPENSES
We need to find out what it costs you to live on a monthly basis. This includes 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. 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.
I compare what can be done in a bankruptcy to your longer term goals. 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.