Most attorneys offer a free consultation to discuss the bankruptcy process and how it can help you in dealing with your debts. If this is a free consultation, the attorney will normally not spend a great deal of time going over the specifics of your case with you. This is more of a time for you to decide if this is something you want to do and for the attorney to decide if your case is one that he/she will take. When you go to this first appointment, you should have an idea of what types of debts you have and how much you owe. You should also be able to tell the attorney if any of your debts are co-signed with someone else. The attorney will need to know what your income has been over the last few months and from what source you receive income.
I have a short questionnaire that I ask individuals to complete before I meet with them. This questionnaire has been designed to give me a quick summary of the person's debts and areas that I need to discuss with them. We also ask what is the main problem when you schedule your appointment so I have an idea of what your concerns are. This allows me to focus on what will help you the most.
Regardless of your situation, the attorney should explain at least what a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will do and how they would apply to your situation. The attorney then should recommend a course of action for you and explain to you why that is the best option for you. It may be that bankruptcy is not the best option and the attorney should tell you that if that is the case. I know of some attorneys who will try to fit everyone into the same chapter of bankruptcy regardless of their situation. I believe that each situation is different and you should know what will be best for you, not what fits my practice the best. While bankruptcy is Federal Law, the procedures may vary based on where you live. The attorney should be able to advise you what the procedures are in Virginia.
Finally the attorney should explain the cost of the bankruptcy to you and explain the process that you will need to go through to file a case. This should include the timeline for the case. I believe that you should be in charge of this process. When I meet with you, I will give you options so you can decide what best fits your budget and timeline.