Many folks find the collection of the requested paperwork overwhelming. You may ask yourself, “Why does this matter?” The attorney is not asking you to collect documents that are arbitrary, everything the attorney is asking for is absolutely necessary to prepare your case properly.
First, the attorney has a duty of due diligence. This means that it is the attorney’s obligation to do a reasonable amount of research into your assets and debt so that they can give you the best legal advice possible. If a problem arises after the case is filed and it is something that the attorney should have been able to find out about, not only could you, the client, get into trouble, but so could the attorney. If there is an asset or a debt that is problematic, it is much easier to address the situation before the case is filed than after the case is filed.
Second, the court is going to ask for many of the same documents. By asking for similar documents as the court, the attorney has a chance to review the documents for red flags or problems. Wouldn’t you want your attorney to look at things before the court does? Also, this ensures that you have the documents organized and ready to go when the court asks for them.
Documents that are typically requested (copies only, originals are not accepted):
- 6 months of bank statements for every account you are involved with
- 6 months of paystubs
- 3 years of federal and state tax returns
- Vehicle titles and/or registrations
- Lease for an apartment or vehicle
- Lawsuits you’ve been a part of for the past 2 years
- Most recent bill for every debt, including vehicle loans and mortgages