When we first meet with a client, we ask about their financial situation. We talk about their monthly budgets, living expenses and what they expect and their desires in filing. In other words, what is the outcome they need?
All of this information factors into what we recommend for them. Sometimes it's a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and sometimes it's a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Sometimes I say, "You don't need to file, and these are the reasons why, and this is what you need to do instead." Surprisingly, that happens in probably 20% of the cases I talk to. We say, "Don't file. You don't need to. But this is what you can do get yourself in a better situation."
Generally, the client needs to bring in their most recent tax return and at least the last six months' pay stubs. If they show up in my office with that information on the very first visit, that puts us in a good position to file quickly. If they are really getting pressured (let's say they're getting their wages garnished), and they have another paycheck coming in the next week, I can get them filed for bankruptcy in one day.
We'll sit there with them, fill out the paperwork, get it prepared, let them come back the next day or the following day, sign the petition, and have it filed that day.
As soon as we file the petition, they are protected by the court. It stops the garnishments. It stops the repo guy from taking the car. It stops anybody from showing up at the house to seize furniture. It stops the IRS from grabbing the tax refund. It stops student loans from garnishing.
It stops everything.
We move pretty quick when it's really an emergency.
Despite all that, the process is pretty simple. The interview usually doesn't last longer than 30-40 minutes. And I can find out everything we need to know for your case in about 20 minutes, just by asking a series of questions that we've developed over 22,000 cases.