Your Free Consultation

1) A secretary will greet you and give you a brown form to fill out with some personal information (name, address, marital status, employment status).

2) When you have finished filling out the brown sheet either Jessica Begeman or Norma Hammes will meet with you. We don’t just have you speak with a paralegal. Both Jessica and Norma are experienced attorneys. Everyone on our staff is very qualified and can answer common questions. They each have their role in preparing, filing, and maintaining your case. However, when the analysis of your options and risks, only an attorney can give you legal advice.

3) During the meeting Jessica or Norma will go through your full financial situation, including reviewing any car loans, mortgage loans (active and/or foreclosed), taxes owed, and so on. It is very important for you to bring all the papers you think might relate to your property and your debts. If you have any questions about whether to bring something or not — bring it. This first appointment usually takes an hour or so, depending on how complicated your situation is. Once in awhile, a person comes to the appointment with absolutely no information or documents about their financial situation – nothing at all. They say that they just “want to ask some questions” about bankruptcy. This situation makes it very difficult — and sometimes impossible — for us to give them any useful advice. Please understand that we ask you to bring these papers to your appointment so we can give you advice that is specific to your situation. It is completely pointless for us to answer “some questions about bankruptcy” because bankruptcy is extremely complicated and alternative solutions are driven by the actual facts in your situation.

4) In most situations, we will have a suggestion about how and whether bankruptcy can help you by the end of the meeting. Often we will calculate a Chapter 13 plan (as compared with a Chapter 7) that demonstrates what kind of relief you will receive in your case, and includes an explanation of the expected fees and costs. We will give you a copy to take home with you to consider.

5) We usually do not make copies of many of your documents at the first appointment. However, it is very important to bring them because we review them and use them in analyzing your situation. At the end of the first appointment we will give you a list of documents to bring back with you (some of which you may already have) if you decide to come back and file bankruptcy with us.

6) We don’t send you away with a stack of forms to fill out and bring back, and we don’t tell you to go online and fill out the forms there. Filling out the bankruptcy forms from the information you give us is part of our job. The questions on some of the forms may look simple and easy to understand, but many of the questions are much more complicated than they seem. How you answer the questions will directly affect how much debt you can wipe out and how much you will have to pay your creditors or the trustee after you file a bankruptcy case. Every single answer to every single question will be reviewed by technicians or attorneys for your bankruptcy trustee, or at the Office of the United States Trustee (which is a part of the United States Department of Justice).

Many questions in the ordinary bankruptcy forms have answers which must be consistent with answers to other questions on other forms. If the forms have conflicting answers, the bankruptcy trustee will probably have questions at your meeting. In order to answer these questions, you may need to provide the trustee with additional documents such as additional bank statements, pay stubs, or income tax returns. Because we have experience in filling out the forms and presenting a complete, consistent, and accurate picture of your situation to the trustee, confusion and disputes usually can be avoided.