Bankruptcy, News

What to Expect on Your First Visit to a Bankruptcy Attorney

Meeting with a complete stranger to discuss sensitive financial issues can be awkward and emotionally distressing.  Many of my clients from the CSRA have told me how they had to “work up their nerve” to make the first phone call to our office.  While filing bankruptcy is designed to provide relief to troubled consumers, our firm understands that the initial bankruptcy process can be worrisome, especially if a person has never had to seek advice from an attorney.  With that in mind, we at Leiden & Leiden would like to let you know what to expect when you come to our office.

EVERYTHING THAT IS DISCUSSED WITH YOU IN OUR OFFICE IS CONFIDENTIAL:  Our firm and its staff are prohibited from divulging any information about your case, other than that which is necessary to carry out our representation.  But for a prospective client, you do not have to worry about your intimate financial details being discussed with your friends, neighbors or co-workers.  We are not even allowed to tell anyone that you contacted our office or scheduled an appointment.  Documents that are copied and reviewed as part of the consultation will be shredded after 6 months if our office has not been retained.

THE CONSULTATION IS NOT BINDING:  Just because you have consulted with our firm does mean that you are required to retain us.  A bankruptcy cannot be filed without your participation, and nothing will appear on your credit report simply because you consulted with our office.  Our firm does not expect you to make an immediate decision about a bankruptcy filing, and you will not be pressured to do so.

IF IT’S NOT IMPORTANT, WE WOULDN’T ASK:  While a prospective client’s main concern may be stopping a repossession or foreclosure, it is still necessary for our firm to inquire in other areas.  A bankruptcy filing requires a debtor to disclose all of their income, expenses, assets, and debts.  A debtor is also required to disclose any cosigners or codebtors.  The questions that will be asked are to make sure that we can not only fix the main problem, but that we do not cause any other problems.  We don’t want to jeopardize any of your assets, or risk the credit of any cosigners, with a hasty, incomplete bankruptcy petition.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS:  Whether it is about our experience, qualifications, or how your case will be handled, we expect that you will have questions for us as well.   Your case is important, and you have a right to know how it will be handled.  It also helps the attorney to address your specific concerns, and make you comfortable with the bankruptcy representation.  Some prospective clients arrive with prepared questions and take notes during the consultation.  This is always encouraged.

MULTIPLE MEETINGS MAY BE REQUIRED BEFORE A BANKRUPTCY CASE CAN BE FILED:  In order to prepare a bankruptcy petition, our firm must review – and in some instances file with the Court – numerous documents.  Many of these documents – such as paystubs, tax returns, bank statements, and bills – may already be available.  But in some instances we may also need to see divorce decrees, lawsuits, judgments, garnishments , 401(k) statements and other information which the prospective client will have to obtain after the consultation.  Our firm provides prospective clients with a checklist of additional information which we will need to properly evaluate and file your case.

FINALLY, ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT “LIFE HAPPENS”:  While mismanagement or overextension can be cited as the root cause of financial distress in some instances, most of the time it is caused by circumstances beyond the client’s control.  Divorce, separation, loss of employment, health problems – or even combinations of these factors – are more often than not to blame for the financial distress.  Don’t let pride, shame or embarrassment prevent you from seeking relief for yourself, and your family.