Each person who is interested in filing bankruptcy with me must first come to a free consultation. The purpose of the meeting is:
1. to get to know each other
2. to review the case
3. to explain available options
4. to explain the process
5. to provide the required disclosures
I think it is important to get to know each other because you need to feel comfortable with the firm and attorney you choose to handle your bankruptcy. Although we all must follow the same rules and have similar procedures, we each have a different approach with clients. What works for one, may not work for another. The human element cannot be underestimated.
During a typical initial bankruptcy consultation, I have potential clients complete intake forms much like you would at a doctor’s office. The forms ask for general information about the person filing such as name, address and birthday. The forms also request information about the person’s assets, income, expenses and debts. They are a starting point for discussions about the case and help formulate a plan of attack as well as help clarify whether there will be any potential issues with filing.
After reviewing the intake forms, we discuss the different options available. A potential client may know exactly under which chapter he or she wants to file but another type may be better in the long run. This is an opportunity to explain the pros and cons of each so that you can reach an educated decision.
Also, I review the procedures for filing. This is usually a potential client’s first experience with this process. Even if you have filed before, it’s good to have a refresher on the process. At the end of the consultation, I provide a checklist of required documents and where to find them. Finally, there are specific disclosures that a potential client must sign as required by sections 342(b) and 527. Signing these disclosures simply acknowledges receipt of the information.
All in all, the initial consultation is meant for information-gathering and education. Without reliable information, it is difficult to make a decision.