5 Ways to Be Sure Your Bankruptcy Case Goes Smoothly

by John Skiba

Hiring a bankruptcy attorney will help you tremendously as you navigate the bankruptcy process. However, it is important to understand that there are many things you can do to help your bankruptcy lawyer that will make the process go much more smoothly.

1. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to File Bankruptcy

With most people who file bankruptcy financial struggle has been ongoing for some time. If you are headed towards bankruptcy, or if you have a pending foreclosure sale you need to stop, or have judgment entered against you and are worried your wages may soon be garnished, go see a bankruptcy attorney now. Don’t wait until your employer receives the wage garnishment documents. Don’t wait until the week before your house is set to be auctioned off.

While I am happy to help you in these situations – I have filed more bankruptcies on the morning of a foreclosure sale that care to admit –your case will proceed much smoother is you and your bankruptcy lawyer have sufficient time to prepare your case and review all of your financial information. A well planned out bankruptcy case will be able to avoid many of the pitfalls in bankruptcy. It takes time to do this, not a lot, but at least a week or two.

Meeting with a bankruptcy attorney early on will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision and allow your attorney time to properly prepare your case.

2. Be Honest With Your Bankruptcy Attorney

The easiest way to encounter problems in your bankruptcy case is to fail to disclose all the necessary information to your lawyer, or worse to purposefully withhold information from your client. Like I tell my clients, if you tell me everything I need to know prior to the filing of your bankruptcy case there is very little we can’t deal with. However, if information comes out after the filing that should have been provided before filing, my hands may be tied at that point, and what could have been a minor issue is now a major issue that will either jeopardize your bankruptcy case or cost you more money.

Be honest with your lawyer. You are a team in this process and fully disclosing information will make process go much smoother.

3. Provide Your Bankruptcy Lawyer With All Requested Documents

This one goes hand in hand with disclosing all information to your attorney. When you file for bankruptcy there is a substantial amount of information that has to be provided to the bankruptcy court. I provide all clients with a list of documents that are needed to assist in preparing your bankruptcy petition and schedules. If I don’t have these documents, I can’t prepare the bankruptcy petition to get your case filed.

It is not uncommon for a client to contact me frustrated that the process is taking so long however they have failed to provide me with any of the documentation I need to get the case done. It is a pain to go through your files and find old tax returns, vehicle registrations, information on life insurance policies…I get that part of it. But all of these items are necessary to not only file your case but make sure you don’t encounter any problems once your bankruptcy case is filed.

The cases where clients provide me documents in a timely manner get filed much more quickly than those were I am chasing down information and documents for weeks on end.

4. Respond to The Trustee’s Request for Documents

When you file for bankruptcy in Arizona, your case will be assigned a trustee whose job it is to oversee your case, review your bankruptcy filing, and review documents that substantiate what you filed with the court.

About a month after your bankruptcy case is filed you and your attorney are required to attend a meeting with your trustee known as the Meeting of Creditors or the “341” meeting. This is an opportunity for the trustee to ask you questions about your case and your creditors can appear and ask you questions if they like (creditors rarely show up).

Prior to the Meeting of Creditors the trustee will send you a letter with a request for some bank statements, tax returns, etc. and may have a questionnaire he/she would like you to complete. The bankruptcy trustee’s letter will give you a deadline by which you are to return all of these documents to his/her office.

The typical Meeting of Creditors is about a 5 minute meeting. If you want this meeting to go smoothly make sure you return the information and documents requested by the trustee in a timely manner. If you have not returned the requested documents prior to the meeting most trustees will continue your meeting to a later date. And you usually don’t find this out until you taken time off work, driven to downtown Phoenix, finally found a parking spot, only to hear the trustee say “sorry, you will have to come back in a couple of weeks once I have your documents.”

Getting the documents to the trustee is another way to help your case proceed smoothly through the bankruptcy process.

5. Bring Photo I.D. and Your Social Security Card to the Meeting of Creditors

Along with providing the needed documents to the trustee, your Meeting of Creditors will proceed much more smoothly if you have brought your photo I.D. and you social security card. The trustees are required to verify you are who you claim you are, and the way they do that is by checking your identification and your social security number.

You must have both of these items with you at the Meeting of Creditors if you want to proceed. Nearly every bankruptcy trustee in Arizona will continue to your meeting to a date when you can bring those items.

If you have lost your social security card it will be necessary to go order a new one. You can do that through the local social security office but you may not get your new card in time for the meeting of creditors. When you order your new card they will give you a receipt. If you ask them they will print your social security number on the receipt, but you must ask them to do this. The trustees will accept this as proof of your social security number or in the alternative you can bring an employer issued W-2.

The events leading up to bankruptcy have likely been some of the most stressful of your life. The bankruptcy process doesn’t have to add to this stress. The above tips can help the process proceed smoothly and get you the fresh start you are seeking.

I offer a free bankruptcy consultation where we can discuss your situation in detail and help you put together a plan to bring financial peace back into your life.

Arizona bankruptcy attorney John Skiba can be reached at (480) 420-4028 or via email at john@skibalaw.com.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© John Skiba, Arizona Consumer Law Group, PLC | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

John Skiba

Arizona Consumer Law Group, PLC on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.