We can help you decide if bankruptcy is the best option for you. Our process is fairly simple. We will provide you with the required forms for a successful consultation, where your options are presented.

You will be asked to provide the following additional information, in addition to the completed questionnaire:

  1. Six months of paystubs for every job worked.
  2. Your previous 2 years tax filings and W2 forms.
  3. Any lawsuit information.
  4. Any life insurance policy information.
  5. Any foreclosure information.
  6. Three months of bank statements for every account you have open, even if there is a
    zero balance in that account.
  7. Any retirement account information.
  8. List of your creditors.

After completing the questionnaire and gathering all of the documents, contact us to schedule a time to bring in your paperwork for review. It is required that you bring the completed questionnaire and all requested documents before you will be scheduled for an appointment with the attorney. When your information has been reviewed by the attorney for completeness, you will be scheduled for your free consultation.

The attorney believes that a consultation should be one that informs you of your options, limitations, and any issues that may arise during your bankruptcy process. While the documentation gathering process can be quite a bit of work, the answers you will receive at your consultation will make that time worth it.

The free initial consultations take place at Wallace & Karson Law Office, PLLC, in Spokane. A face-to-face meeting is always preferable but not always possible. If you are unable to meet with the attorney in Spokane, consultations by telephone are offered, for a charge of $75.00. 

If you are in need of extra assistance in preparing your documents, or require use of the office printers to provide documentation, a fee of $10 per session will apply to cover time and costs.

Your Credit Report

It is highly recommended that you permit the pulling of a credit report on your behalf to see a complete picture of your financial situation. While there are free credit report sites, such as www.annualcreditreport.com, which provides one free credit report from each agency per calendar year, often they are not as comprehensive as the credit reports that search for judgments and other accounts. The cost for this service is $50/single or $75/couple. You will receive a copy of your credit report.

During your bankruptcy, it is not recommended that you even peek at your credit report. Please understand that your debts are listed on the report because they are active accounts. Unless and until your bankruptcy case either discharges or dismisses, the accounts will remain on your credit report. This will take a significant time, and perhaps some effort on your part, to “clean up.” While companies are supposed to monitor accurate reflection on your credit report, it is often left up to the consumer to alert the agencies to inaccuracies. It is not recommended that you begin this process until at least a month after your case closes so that companies can begin to remove your accounts on their own. If they are not cleared from your report, it is your option to challenge those entries as “included in a bankruptcy.”

Documents for your Initial Consultation

In addition to the documents above:

  1. Six months of paystubs for every job worked.
  2. Your previous 2 years tax filings and W2 forms.
  3. Any lawsuit information.
  4. Any life insurance policy information.
  5. Any foreclosure information.
  6. Three months of bank statements for every account you have open, even if there is a zero balance in that account.
  7. Any retirement account information.
  8. List of your creditors.

What information you need

The information you gather will assist the attorney in protecting your property and stopping lawsuits and garnishments. Without the correct information, the attorney cannot answer your questions or protect you and your property. You must include income information as well as information about your property and debts and about your financial affairs during the past year.

Property. In order to preserve your property, you must disclose its existence and claim it as exempt. Whatever you do not claim as exempt will be taken by the bankruptcy trustee, liquidated, and distributed to the creditors in partial payment of their claims. If you leave out an IRA, real estate, vehicle, bank account, or some other property, you may get a real shock later when the trustee seizes it for the creditors! You must correctly describe all your property in order to claim it as exempt. The attorneys will advise you about how to protect your property based upon the information you provide at your free initial consultation.

Debts. When your papers are filed with the court, the court will send a letter to all the creditors you have listed at the addresses you have provided. That letter will put the creditor on notice that you have filed bankruptcy and that the creditor will have to cease trying to collect from you. Only the creditors who get the notice will have to leave you alone, however, so it is very important to list all creditors with correct addresses. If you do not list a creditor with a correct address, that creditor will be able to sue you even though you have filed bankruptcy.

Mandatory Forms

The bankruptcy court has mandatory forms which must be filled out in order to get you the protection of the Bankruptcy Act. If you want to protect your property and get protection from your creditors, your case must be filed using these mandatory forms.

The mandatory forms are meant to be uniform throughout the United States, but each court may require specific forms which are not required in other courts. For example, the forms required in Eastern Washington, Western Washington, and Idaho are all slightly different. Using the wrong forms is cause for dismissal. We will prepare your forms for the appropriate jurisdiction.

Stopping Creditor Calls

When your attorney files your properly prepared bankruptcy petition at the bankruptcy court, a federal court order automatically comes into effect which stops (stays) most types of collection actions against your property. This court order is called the “automatic stay.”

The automatic stay is a very powerful order which is designed to stop creditors from seizing your property while the bankruptcy case is going on. It affects credit card companies, medical bill collectors, landlords, mortgage companies, and even the IRS. Creditors who are affected by the automatic stay must immediately stop harassment, lawsuits, garnishments, and all other attempts to make you pay them money. If they fail to cease collection efforts, they can be held in contempt of court and fined. Certain special types of debt collection are not stopped by the automatic stay, such as child support or alimony garnishments. At your free initial consultation, you will be advised regarding which of your creditors will be stopped by filing a bankruptcy.

The time at which the creditors must cease collection is when they receive notice of the filing of the bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court normally sends out the notice about a week after the filing, but sometimes the notices go out late. There are ways you can stop garnishments and lawsuits faster than waiting for the court notice to come out.

The automatic stay also applies to home foreclosures. In a Chapter 7 case the automatic stay only lasts for about three months, however, and the foreclosure can resume after the automatic stay is lifted. In a Chapter 13 case the automatic stay can stay in place long enough for you to make up the past due payments.

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