Bankruptcy Lawyers
South Carolina


How to Prepare for Your First Meeting With a Bankruptcy Attorney

Bankruptcy lawyer consults with a potential client to review legal options.

If you're ready to explore a financial reset, here's what you need to know.

Talking to a bankruptcy lawyer is a big step. It means acknowledging to yourself that you're in a difficult situation and need a way out. It also means discussing your finances with a stranger, which is always hard. And if you've never worked with an attorney before, you may not be sure what to expect.

In short, if you're considering meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer, you've already done a lot of hard work just to get to this point. Our job is to listen to your story, explain your options, and guide you forward. Before you come to your free consultation, take the following steps to prepare.

What to bring to your consultation:

Identification and financial documents

  • Proof of identity: bring your driver's license, state-issued ID, passport, military ID, or other form of documentation.
  • Marital or family status: your attorney needs to know whether you are married and whether you have any dependents.
  • Income documentation: bring your paystubs, income statements, or some other documentation of your income. We need this to assess whether you will qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  • Bank statements: in addition to verifying your income, bank statements can also reveal whether you made any major purchases or transferred assets, which could affect the bankruptcy process.
  • Documentation of your assets: for major assets like your home or car, bring the paperwork determining what they're worth. For smaller items, it's fine to have a general sense, such as "I have about $500 worth of kitchen appliances."
  • Documentation of living expenses, such as your rent or utilities.
  • Child support and/or spousal support orders, if applicable.

Information on your debts

  • A list of debts: this is one of the most important things to address in the bankruptcy process. Account for all of your debts, no matter how small: mortgage, auto loan, personal loans, credit cards, medical debt, and so on.
  • Status of debts: include documentation of whether you're current or behind on your payments, as well as whether any debts are delinquent, in default, or in collections.
  • Co-debtors: be sure to tell your attorney if you have joint debt, co-signers, or authorized users on accounts.
  • Any communications from a creditor or debt collector: if you have received a written debt collection notice, bring that to the meeting. If you have received phone calls from a debt collector, write down who called you, when they called, and what debt they were attempting to collect.
  • Any court documents: if you are being sued by a creditor or debt collector, you should absolutely bring the complaint to your meeting with an attorney.

That may seem like a lot of documents, but it's important to give your attorney a full picture of your financial situation so we can advise on the best path forward. That said, you should never delay meeting with an attorney because you're still trying to hunt down documents. It's better to come to a consultation with the information you have and let your lawyer know what you're still missing. Your attorney can investigate and find documents on your behalf.

Be prepared to answer your attorney's questions

Again, your lawyer needs some information to assess your situation and advise whether filing for bankruptcy is in your interest. We'll ask basic questions about your marital and family status, where you live, and your overall financial situation. We'll also ask about your debts and assets, any collection activities, and whether your income or living expenses are likely to change.

We understand that this isn't an easy conversation to have, and we'll do our best to put you at ease. Think of it as just like seeing a doctor: you need to tell your physician about your symptoms so they can properly diagnose and treat you.

Bring your own questions, too

A consultation is also an opportunity for you to assess your attorney and law firm to see if you have the right fit. Trust is essential in any attorney-client relationship, especially where finances are involved, so it's important to make sure you're comfortable. Some examples of questions you may want to ask include:

  • What will happen to my house, car, and other property?
  • How long do you think my case will take to resolve?
  • What will the process look like? Will I have to attend any meetings or hearings?
  • Is it better for me to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13?
  • What will filing for bankruptcy cost? How do the fees work? Do I have to pay all at once, or is there a payment plan?
  • What will happen to my credit score?

Remember, there is no judgment here

You may be embarrassed or ashamed of your financial situation. There's a lot of (undeserved) stigma around bankruptcy, and walking into an attorney's office can be difficult. It's important to realize that you're not alone, and there's no shame in needing a financial reset. Our job is to listen empathetically to your story and help you find a solution by exercising your legal rights as a debtor, with no pressure and no judgment.

If you're ready to explore whether it's time for a financial reset, you've come to the right place. Schedule your free, confidential consultation with an experienced South Carolina bankruptcy attorney at Benjamin R. Matthews & Associates, LLC today.

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2010 Gadsden Street
Columbia, SC 29201

Phone (803) 799-1700
Fax (803) 728-6718

331 E. Main St, Suite 257
Rock Hill, SC 29730

Phone (803) 909-9377
Fax (803) 728-6718