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     Filing bankruptcy is a procedure usually commenced by the person seeking relief, the client/debtor, seeing a bankruptcy attorney for a consultation.
The attorney will review the debtor's financial situation and determine if relief under the bankruptcy laws is appropriate and desirable, taking into account all of the facts and circumstances.

The Initial Consultation

     Most attorneys have the debtor come in for an initial consultation, and then at least one more follow-up. At the initial consultation, the attorney will often provide the debtor with a synopsis of the relief available under the bankruptcy laws, and do a preliminary assessment of the debtor's financial situation.

     In some cases, the initial consultation involves the debtor bringing into the attorney's office a wide array of information and documents about the debtor's financial situation, including copies of bills, past few years tax returns, copies of automobile installment contracts and leases, deeds, mortgages, trust deeds, property tax and homeowner's association statements, lawsuits, liens and levies, marital dissolution documents, along with pay stubs for the past 6 months, and other relevant information.


The Bankruptcy Attorney

     The attorney's job is to carefully scrutinize the debtor's financial information, and then provide the client with an analysis of the client's options. These may include, but are not limited to, filing for relief under Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, or Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code; having the attorney attempt an out-of-court workout or debt adjustment with the creditors without court supervision; seeking the assistance of a credit counseling firm who handles debt adjustments, such as Consumer Credit Counselors; or, finally, deciding that the financial situation does not call for any relief or action at that particular time.

Your Financial Situation

     Often, a client's financial condition is in flux. A client who may not be eligible for relief under a particular Chapter now, may be eligible for relief in a matter of weeks or months. This is often dependent upon the extent and nature of the debt, and the debtor's income situation. It is a complex analysis, and requires careful scrutiny by trained counsel. Some debts, such as tax liabilities, will only be dischargeable if certain time lines have passed, and a client may delay filing a petition until such time as those debts are dischargeable.

Filing bankruptcy and your financial situation

     If decision is made to file bankruptcy, the client/debtor supplies the attorney with all of the information required to fully complete the petition, schedules of assets and liabilities, statement of financial affairs, statement of intention with respect to secured debts, schedule of current income, and payment advice. The attorney then uses the supplied information to fill out the bankruptcy forms, using software which is compatible with court rules.


Credit Counseling Course

     Individual debtors (as opposed to corporate or partnership debtors) are required to take a credit counseling course and receive a certificate before being eligible to file a bankruptcy petition.

Written by Henry Rendler

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