The more you do yourself, the less you’ll have to pay an attorney to do. Prior to your first consultation, ask what information you should bring to help the attorney understand your situation. Some attorneys provide a written list of documents that clients need to bring, such as recent pay stubs, income tax returns, copies of deeds, and Kelly Blue Book estimates on vehicles. Most attorneys charge by the hour, so the better prepared you are, the more affordable your meeting will be.

It is also a good idea to write down your questions and concerns in advance. This way you can cover everything you need to talk about without having to schedule numerous meetings or repeatedly call back with questions.

If you happen to have an existing case with the court, bring copies of any documents that have been filed. If you have misplaced these documents, you can go to the court to obtain a copy from your file. Providing this information at your consultation will go a long way toward an effective and efficient consultation.

After your initial consultation, you will need to create an inventory of your property and debts. This doesn’t mean listing every teaspoon, but it does mean listing all large assets and placing an overall value on your assets. You will need to provide paperwork for property that you will be listing, such as statements for investment accounts and current figures for credit card balances. Providing this information in a complete and prompt manner will help move your case forward.