It Is Advisable to Seek a Bankruptcy Attorney If You Are Considering Filing for Bankruptcy

Interviewer: How does the process begin, with a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13?

Vance Truman: My initial consultation, when someone calls up and they want to come in and meet with me, is always free. I don't charge for initial consultations. There are attorneys that do, but that isn't what I do in my practice. A person can't make a decision about doing something before they have the information. So the initial consultation is free.

During the Consultation, the Bankruptcy Attorney May Recommend Which Bankruptcy Is a Better Option

When a person calls in and they make an appointment with me, I usually set aside 30 to 45 minutes, a block of my time, where they come in and we sit down and I go through a series of questions with them. I ask about their income, their expenses, and their assets.

They tell me what they want to happen and what kind of relief they want to get out of filing for bankruptcy. Then I make a recommendation what kind of bankruptcy I think would be best for them.

Now, sometimes they're on the fence. They don't know whether they would qualify for 7 or Chapter 13. Generally, I tell them that if you want to do this, let's schedule another appointment. You come in and you retain my services. We sit down and fill out a questionnaire, where we go through the list and get all their debts and all their assets, their income and expenses. Then I use that information to determine what kind of bankruptcy they qualify for.

So there's a questionnaire that is completed where they bring in tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, proof of insurances, and then a list of all their creditors. I use that to prepare the bankruptcy petition. That's what happens at first.

The Bankruptcy Attorney Prepares the Bankruptcy Petition after the Attorney Has Received the Necessary Information, Including Pay Stubs, Tax Returns and a List of Creditors

Interviewer: What is the next step after you have the information?

Since 2005, Individuals Are Required to Attend Credit Counseling Sessions while the Bankruptcy Is Pending

Vance Truman: After the petition is prepared, while I'm working on the bankruptcy petition, the new law that was changed, the new bankruptcy law from 2005, requires that individuals do a credit counseling session. They've got to do two.

They have to do one before I can file the case. They do a second one right after the case has been filed. In this session, it's about an hour to an hour and a half. Individuals can either take the course over the phone or over the Internet. It is important to note that cannot file their case until they complete the requirements.

It Is Important that the List of Creditors Is Accurate and Complete before the Petition Is Filed

When they come in a week later, we sit down and we go through the bankruptcy petition page by page, make sure it's both complete and accurate. In bankruptcy, it's all or nothing, you cannot exclude creditors.

If you owe somebody money, they have to be listed on the petition. Once they're satisfied with the information I put on their bankruptcy petition, the income, the assets, the liabilities, and their debt, they sign it. Then I check to see if they've done their credit counseling. If it is complete, then we file the case.