A successful Chapter 13 requires hard work from both the attorney and his/her client. Clients should prepare by reading as much information as possible in advance of their 1st meeting with the lawyer. There is an application and forms to be filled out and signed. Clients should gather any and all financial documentation. You will need:
3 years tax returns;
6 months bank statements (checking, savings, money market accounts etc);
6 months pay advices (how you get paid – usually by pay stub, but you might have direct deposit or be self-employed, so you must show how much you earn as well as how you get paid);
All your bills;
Copies of any lawsuits against you;
Any financial instruments including notes, mortgages, titles to property;
Tax statements, recent appraisals and mortgage statements on your home(s);
Account statements from all depository, investment and retirement accounts, including stocks, bonds etc;
A list of assets sold or transferred in the last year;
Any lease or installment agreements;
Any papers you have concerning your debts;
Any lawsuits against you – divorce, judgments, foreclosures, garnishments, etc;
Any insurance policies.
When you meet the attorney, bring your drivers license and social security card with you. A copy of these will be kept in your file. If you are not meeting your attorney in person – DO NOT MAIL these documents! Your entire financial identity is there. Use a tracking method, FedEx, UPS or certified mail is better. Be sure to notify the attorney of anything that might be important to you financially. Not all creditors will appear on your credit reports, so it’s important to tell your lawyer about any potential creditors. Medical providers usually don’t report outstanding invoices on your report. If you were involved in an accident or have other legal issues that may affect you financially, be sure to bring those up in the conversation with your attorney and list them in your application!
If you need to file quickly, be sure you have already taken the pre-filing course and have your certificate ready. You may be able to obtain the application in advance and have that completed as well.
Have a list of questions ready for your attorney. Your meeting will be more fruitful and you will leave with a greater understanding of your particular issues. The success of your case relies greatly on your ability to comply with the provisions of the chapter 13 requirements and terms of your specific plan. A thorough, complete and accurate preparation of the forms, application and documents relating to your individual circumstances is essential to that success.