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Secured Debt, Unsecured Debt, and Priority Debt Explained.

Preparing For A Bankruptcy Consultation

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Preparing For A Bankruptcy Consultation
©2023, Melissa C. Marsh.
Written: 8/31/2001  
By: Melissa C. Marsh


How should you prepare for your first consultation with a bankruptcy attorney? An attorney's advice can be complete and accurate only when the information you provide is complete and accurate. This article provide a list of the minimum information you will need for your initial consultation:

Asset Information

1. Real Estate. For each piece of real estate (e.g., home, condo, townhome) you own, you need to have today's fair market value and remaining balance of any mortgage or lien (pay-off-amount). In addition, you will need:

  1. a tax bill showing the assessed value of the real estate;

  2. an appraisal or market analysis of the real estate prepared by a real estate broker;

  3. a mortgage statement indicating your principal balance;

  4. information with reference to equity loans, or liens, on the real estate; and

  5. your deed;

2. Personal Property. You will need to determine the fair market value of all the personal property you own. The market value for the assets will be the "yard sale" value, unless you have a statement from an independent third party to determine the value. In addition, you will need to bring:

  1. your most recent bank statement for each bank account;

  2. your IRA, pension or profit sharing plan statement from your employer or plan administrator, and any literature describing the plan;

  3. both the Kelly Bluebook wholesale and retail value for each vehicle you own;

  4. the market value for any jewelry and other valuables;

  5. a list of all items in your home that you could sell at a garage sale, or otherwise; and

  6. the cash surrender value of any life insurance policies.

Debt and Creditor Information

Your debts are classified as: secured (e.g., loan is secured by collateral), priority (e.g., taxes, alimony, child support) and unsecured (credit cards, doctors). For each creditor to whom a debt is owed, you must have the: name, complete address, account number, and balance owed.

1. Secured Creditors. On a separate piece of paper prepare a list of your secured creditors an include: complete address, account number, balance owed, and identify the collateral securing the loan. In addition, bring any and all documentation evidencing the security and the date interest attached (e.g. mortgage or security interest). Finally, bring the latest statement of the principal balance due to the secured creditor.

2. Priority Creditors. On a separate piece of paper list: the total outstanding real estate taxes due; the total outstanding income taxes owed (include each year and amount); any outstanding alimony owed; and any child support owed.

3. Unsecured Creditors. On a separate piece of paper prepare an alphabetical list of all of your creditors (name, address, account, total amount owed, and last time you used the credit card). In addition, bring the latest statement for each credit card.

Income and Expense Information

To complete the Chapter 7 Liquidation analysis, your attorney will also need information about you income and expenses.

1. Income. To properly assess you income, the attorney will need you to bring the following information:

  1. a copy of your last 2 income tax returns with W-2 and 1099's;

  2. your last 4 most current pay stubs; and

  3. proof of any other income.

2. Expenses. Make sure you complete the following expense form.


Verify the numbers with your checkbook and other records.

1. Monthly rent/home mortgage payment $ _______

2. Real estate taxes (amount paid monthly):.$_______

3. Property insurance (pro-rate for monthly payment) $________

4. Electricity and Gas $ _________

5. Water and Sewer $ _________

6. Telephone $ _________

7. Home maintenance (repairs and upkeep) $ _________

8. Food $ _________

9. Clothing $ _________

10. Laundry and dry cleaning $ _________

11. Medical and dental expenses $ _________

12. Transportation (not including car payments) $ _________

13. Entertainment, recreation, newspaper, magazine, etc. $ ______

14. Charitable Contributions $ _________

15. Homeowner's or renter's Insurance: $ _________

16. Life Insurance: $ _________

17. Health Insurance: $ _________

18. Auto Insurance: $ _________

19. Other Insurance (not deducted from wages or included in home mortgage: (specify type) _______________________ $ _________

20. Taxes (not deducted from wages or in mortgage):

(Specify Type) ______________ $ ________

21. Installment payments (auto, appliances, etc..):

Auto: $ _________

Other (specify): _________________ $ ______

Other (specify): _________________ $ ______

22. Monthly Alimony, maintenance, and support paid to others $ _____

23. Monthly Child support for additional dependents not living at your home $ _________

24. Regular expenses from operation of business, profession, or farm

$ _________ (attach detailed statement)

25. Personal Upkeep Expenses (hair, nails, make-up, etc..): $ _________


Copyright 1999-2023 Melissa C. Marsh. All Rights Reserved. All Information on this website is subject to a Disclaimer and Use Agreement. This information is provided as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. We advise you to seek the advice of competent legal counsel to address your own specific questions, facts and circumstances.

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