Honestly, nothing. Most of my clients don’t bring any documents to their first consultation, but it wouldn’t hurt to be a little prepared.
Here’s what you don’t need: money. I hate taking money at the first meeting, because I want you to go home and really, really think about it. Yes, I know that you’ve been thinking about it for at least 6 months or more before you call me, but one more night won’t hurt. You also don’t need money to pay for the initial consultation. It’s free.
Here’s what you could bring to speed things along:
- paystubs — Sometimes, the main factor determining whether you can file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 is your income. If you make too much, you might be looking at a repayment plan. If you bring your paystubs, we can calculate your 6 month averages to see where you fall.
- collection notices — This will give the attorney a good idea of where you are in the collection process. If you’re still getting nasty letters saying that they will send you to their legal department, there is not a real rush for time. If you have garnishment paperwork from your employer, then we need to file this case by Wednesday so that I can notify payroll to stop that Friday garnishment. If you have a foreclosure notice for next Tuesday, then we’d better do something by Monday to save the home.
- credit report — Maybe. If you have set up an account at www.creditkarma.com, you do NOT need to print it out, but make sure to log in to your account at the office so that the attorney can save a .pdf copy of your report.
- taxes — not really necessary, but I’d love to see how large your tax refund was last year. You’ll eventually need them before you file, but they don’t make a huge difference for the first consultation.
- online class (Credit Counseling) — no. You don’t need to do this before you meet with your attorney.
- secured loan documents — Yes please. Mortgage statements and car loan balances will make a huge difference on determining the value of your assets.
So if you want to be extra-prepared, then bring paystubs, collection notices, your creditkarma login info, and secured loan documents, and you’re good to go.