PARALEGAL PERSPECTIVE: Preparing a Client for Bankruptcy

Virtually all attorneys and/or law firms have their own procedure in preparing to take a potential client through a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy proceeding. Most firms choose the most cost effective method to obtain information from their client. At Cooper & Forbes, our procedure familiarizes the client with an actual bankruptcy petition and schedules. As a paralegal, I assist the attorneys in preparing a client for the filing of a bankruptcy by determining whether all information required has been provided by the client. A potential client is asked to complete a blank bankruptcy petition and provide the following information:

  1. copies of any vehicle titles that are owned, leased or mortgaged, including the fair market value for each vehicle
  2. copies of all deeds to real estate and a current tax value of all real estate
  3. copies of all mortgages and security documents for all real estate
  4. name and address of landlord, if applicable
  5. copies of bank statements for all accounts in your name
  6. copies of Federal and State tax returns for the past two (2) years
  7. copies of any divorce decree or separation agreement entered within the last four (4) years
  8. copies of four (4) recent pay stubs
  9. copies of any insurance policies, 401(k) plans, pension plans, retirement plans, etc.
  10. copies of any and all credit card statements, medical bills, collection notices, overdue utility bills or any statement in which you are indebted to someone else, including the name of the creditor, address, account number, nature of debt, when the account was opened, current balance and the name and address of any co-debtors.
  11. copies of any court documents such as collection proceedings and foreclosures
Most firms, without this information, cannot perform an accurate analysis of your financial situation to determine whether a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is in the best interest of the client. Full cooperation of the client is necessary in order to perform the most cost effective service.

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