Think of bankruptcy as a repair and remodeling job. The first step is to assemble the tools and supplies – hammer, saw, nails, paint, brackets, tiles, whatever is needed to finish the job. When it comes to filing bankruptcy, you need to assemble all your tools to bring to your attorney’s office. Having practiced as a bankruptcy attorney in Indiana for many, many years, I know how much time and hassle can be saved simply by gathering up the paperwork ahead of time.

Now, mind you, not everyone who comes to see me – and there have literally been tens of thousands of different people who have – ends up filing bankruptcy. People come in to talk about their problems and to find out about their options. I counsel with them. Sometimes bankruptcy is a good idea for them and sometimes there are other alternatives to explore. But, whatever the outcome, it helps smooth the way for a productive discussion if the clients have their papers lined up.

The most important piece of paper to have is a full list of all creditors, meaning everyone and every company to whom you owe money. For each of these, you need their name, their exact address, and the exact amount you owe.

The list of creditors is “the biggie”. Then, you’ll need all pay stubs for the past two or three months, all bank statements for the past six months, and a copy of your tax return for the prior year (so, if you were coming in today, you would bring your 2006 tax return.)

These papers are your “turnaround tools”, what we will use for the “remodeling job”. The goal? Not just a new room or a new roof, but a new start – on your financial future!