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What should you bring when meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer?

For Massachusetts residents struggling with debt, meeting with a bankruptcy attorney can be the first step toward a new financial life. The first meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer is important, and it will helps when the debtor brings some key documents for the attorney to review.

Some of the most important documents will be some basic financial records. These will include a few months worth of bank statements, as well as the most recent bills from each creditor. If the debtor has a mortgage, a copy of the mortgage as well as copies of recent bills or payment coupons -- especially any that show the total balance outstanding -- will be important. If the home is in foreclosure, copies of all documents related to the foreclosure should be brought to the first meeting.

Other important documents include at least three years of tax returns, promissory notes and other documentation regarding outstanding loans and any correspondence from creditors. If the debtor is divorced, the lawyer will want to see the divorce decree as well as any orders regarding child and spousal support obligations.

The debtor should also bring certain legal documents. If the debtor is being sued by any creditors, then the attorney should see all documents regarding the lawsuit. Any judgments entered against the debtor are also significant. Documents regarding obligations the debtor believes may not be dischargeable, such as back taxes or student loans, should also be reviewed by the attorney because they will give a picture of the overall financial situation and may influence what type of bankruptcy to file.

Many people preparing for their first meeting with a bankruptcy attorney will find they can pull together most, if not all, of these documents. If you are unable to find a tax return from two years ago or don't have copies of every bank statement, it's best to go to the meeting with what you have. The lawyer can advise you if there are any critical documents that should be mailed or dropped off later. The important thing is to meet with the attorney and get the ball rolling.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Checklist: Documents To Show To Your Bankruptcy Attorney," accessed Oct. 2, 2016

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