What to Expect During a Free Consultation with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee

If you are considering having a free consultation with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, but aren’t sure what to expect, we asked Debt Solutions Professional Kaitlin Verge to help explain the process she goes through when meeting potential clients. While everyone’s financial situation is unique, this will help you determine what benefits a free personalized debt consultation may have for you.

When meeting with potential clients, I often explain personal bankruptcy as “hitting the refresh button” as it can wipe out most of your debt in as little as 9-21 months. Similarly, I describe consumer proposals as a “settlement offer” where the goal is to pay your creditors a portion of what you owe but often not the full amount.

You’re probably now wondering what’s the “catch”? Well, just like any type of compromise, there are specific duties and consequences to insolvency proceedings such as monthly payments to your creditors, a lower credit rating for a period of time and depending on your specific situation, you may lose possession over certain non-exempt assets.

If you are struggling with debt and are considering either a consumer proposal or bankruptcy, the best thing to do is review your specific situation with a professional.

In Canada, both bankruptcies and consumer proposals are regulated by a department in our federal government called the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB). In order for individuals and companies to administer these types of filings, they need to acquire a license from the OSB. The license is obtained by passing a series of exams. Once licensed, these professionals are called Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LITs) and are the only professionals who can administer bankruptcy or consumer proposal proceedings.

If you are interested in learning more about these debt relief options, most Licensed Insolvency Trustee firms offer free consultations to discuss your options. Having a consultation does not obligate you to move forward with a bankruptcy or consumer proposal but will provide you with details on each of your debt relief options and inform you on the duties involved. We highly recommend partaking in a free consultation so you can make an informed decision.

The main thing to keep in mind is that this process is not “one size fits all” as it is unique to your specific situation. You may have family or friends who have gone through an insolvency proceeding before and there is a good chance that your experience will differ from theirs.

What can I expect if I book a consultation with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee?

1.     There will be questions, lots of questions.

Since everyone’s financial situation is unique, during a consultation we ask a lot of questions to determine what each option will look like for you. It’s not uncommon to spend half an hour or more gathering information before we’re able to accurately advise what a bankruptcy or consumer proposal would actually look like.

Generally, we review your assets, debts, income and expenses before we can provide numbers and timelines. While this may seem daunting at first, it’s what ensures that we’re being accurate and providing as much information as possible up front. It’s also what enables us to tell you crucial information, like if your assets are protected or how long your credit will be affected.

Feel free to ask as many questions as you like as well. We will try to provide as much information as we can, but we also want to answer any questions you may have. These processes are not common knowledge and are not always easy to understand. There are no “stupid” questions and we want you to be confident in the decision you are making and in us. As corny as it can sound, knowledge is power and the more information we discuss up front, the more equipped you’ll be to make an educated decision for dealing with your debt.

2.     There is no judgement.

Talking about your financial situation with a stranger can be overwhelming and for many this will be the first time they are seeing their finances laid out “on paper”. We are fully aware that it can take years for someone to feel comfortable enough to actively seek solutions for their debt. It is an incredibly difficult step to take for almost everyone, regardless if your debts are old, new, big, small or otherwise.

I can’t speak for every debt professional, but it is certainly the aim of our firm to come from a place of understanding, compassion and authenticity. Our job is to advise you on your financial situation, not judge it, and no matter the situation we approach each client with the common goal of finding a solution to their debt.

“Before going to see Kaitlin Verge at Grant Thornton I was feeling completely overwhelmed. I had sought advice from friends and family but things only became worse. After meeting with her I felt such relief. She had the answers to all my questions and made me feel confident that I could start over. Thank you for being so smart, professional, and organized.

-Anonymous Client, NS

3.      Sometimes, we aren’t the solution.

While bankruptcies and consumer proposals are the relief options we provide, sometimes the best solution is a different path. To help explain this, I like to think of debt solutions as a train. While bankruptcies and consumer proposals may represent the caboose of that train, there are a ton of other cars along the way. Other options available could include consolidation loans, accessing equity in your property, or using credit counselling services to provide settlement arrangements to pay off 100% your debts. In some cases, all it takes is a good budget to defeat financial woes.

“I’m a 26 year old woman and I was really nervous of calling. I was worried about who to call & who would or wouldn’t take my money and run with it. The person I was lucky enough to get to explain my situation to was extremely kind and gave me great advice. They actually advised me NOT to use their services unless I absolutely couldn’t handle the stressful part of calling and communicating with my debt collectors. This showed me that Grant Thornton is here to actually help and give honest financial advice rather than just wanting my business.

-Everett Dale, Truro, NS

On occasion, speaking with a LIT simply leads to crossing us off your list of potential options, and that is fine. Our job is to help you find the best solution to your debt and we would never pressure someone into an option that’s not right for them.

4.     Sometimes, we are the solution.

Again, just because you have a consultation with our team it doesn’t mean you have to proceed with a bankruptcy or consumer proposal. However, if you do feel that these options are best for your specific situation, we’re here to help.

After a consultation, if you indicate you would like to move forward, a debt professional will give you a list of items to gather together such as a list of assets you own, account information and a copy of your ID. Because these processes are federally regulated it is important your file is properly documented from start to finish, and these supporting documents ensure accuracy and consistency.

Once this is done, we’ll review your options again to ensure you’re one-hundred percent comfortable with the information provided before we file any legal documentation. If you are confident in your decision, we will complete the appropriate paperwork, and you will have completed this stage of the insolvency process.

The timeline from the consultation to signing documents can vary depending on your situation but typically my tagline is “we will move as quick as you”. This means if you’re experiencing a wage garnishment and need to move forward as soon as possible, as long as we have the supporting documents, we will. If you would like to wait until you return from maternity leave so your income is more stable, we will. If you need some time to think things over more, no issue! Again, we will work around what is best for you.

I’m so grateful I chose Grant Thornton to help guide us through our financial issues. The team at the Edmonton office made us feel at ease and confident that we made the right choice. They were there to answer all of our questions and explain the choices we had… The whole process was professional and caring. Please don’t hesitate to contact Grant Thornton if you need guidance, they are there for you. “

-Marilyn W, Edmonton AB

It’s important to note that every Trustee firm is different so there will be slight variations in processes depending on who you reach out to. However, the common goal of reviewing your options thoroughly and providing solutions for your debt should remain the same.

If you have further questions about the bankruptcy or consumer proposal process or would like to book a free, confidential consultation with our team, please contact our office nearest you. We look forward to helping you find the right debt solution for you.

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