So when you decide to file for bankruptcy, it is essential that you begin getting your paperwork ready. Along with your application, you will need to submit documents regarding your financial information, debts, income, assets, and financial transactions. Your bankruptcy application and corresponding forms must be filled out accurately and completely. It could delay your application if you include inaccurate information or fail to include the required documents. Additionally, if a court determines that you lied about financial transactions, your entire case could be thrown out.
Your Basic Personal Information
You will need to include your basic contact information and your bankruptcy application. Specifically, you should include your name, address, and any names you have used in the last eight years. You should also include the last four digits of your Social Security number, your children’s ages, and personal information about your spouse if you are married. Finally, you will need to include the names and addresses of your employer and previous employers.
Proof of Your Income, Assets, and Tax Returns
It is crucial that you include all income you receive each month when reporting your income to the bankruptcy court. For example, if your income level is too high compared to your monthly debt, you may be prohibited from filing for certain types of bankruptcy, like Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Submitting your pay stub or a statement from your employer is the most common way of proving income. However, if you have income from other sources other than your regular job, you will also need to submit documentation proving your income from these sources. The bankruptcy court will require you to submit your tax return and proof of your income for the 60 days preceding your bankruptcy filing with the court.
When you complete your required bankruptcy forms, you will have to supply information about your earnings from every source within the last two years. You should begin collecting the following financial records that show your income:
- Your most recent bank statements
- Pay stubs
- Your tax returns
- Appraisals of your home
- Appraisals of your personal possessions, including jewelry, to show you are exempt
- Proof that you took credit counseling
When you complete bankruptcy forms, you will be required to list every property item you own and how much it’s worth. You can group common household items, like silverware, dishware, towels, etc., into categories, such as “household items.” After listing your assets, you should write down how much each item is worth. You will need to determine its replacement cost or what you would have to pay to repurchase the same or similar item. Your assets also include the cash in your bank accounts and your 401(k) and other retirement accounts. These numbers may change slightly, but you should attempt to make a good-faith effort to be as accurate as possible.
Your Monthly Expenses and Debts
Keeping documentation of your assets is crucial and an important part of showing the bankruptcy court that you have a set income level. Proving that you can repay your debts over a period of time for a chapter 13 bankruptcy is crucial. For a chapter 7 bankruptcy, proving that you have a lack of income will help you pass the means test and be eligible for filing.
Remember, when you make a list of debts, you will need to include all debts, whether you intend to repay them or not. For every debt you list, you will need to include details about the debt, such as the full contact information for the creditor, an account number, and how much you owe. You should gather the following financial documents showing your assets, expenses, and debts:
- Most recent bill from every creditor
- Bills or invoices for purchases in the last year
- Canceled checks for expenses you cannot document otherwise
- All insurance policies in your name
- Vehicle titles
- Your lease or mortgage
- Tax returns for the previous three years
- Promissory notes you have signed
- Other documents relating to debts you owe other people
- Any lawsuits with which you have been served
- Proof that anyone else owes you money
- Evidence of your child support and alimony obligations
- Correspondence between you and your creditors, including threat letters
- Most recent payment coupons for vehicles (leased or purchased), real estate, and student loans
Your Legal Records
The bankruptcy court may want to know about any pending litigation against you or any cases that have been filed against you. Suppose you have questions about whether you should inform your attorney about legal actions taken against you. In that case, the best strategy is to disclose any legal actions against you to your attorney. Your attorney can advise you on which information you will need to include in your bankruptcy application. For example, previous court judgments against you may show that that will become a factor in deciding whether bankruptcy is right for you.
Any pending litigation can also determine how much you can afford to pay your creditors. If you are pursuing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, payments to your creditors from a court judgment will need to be factored into your monthly payment plan. You should also include any divorce decree or other court order showing you are required to pay spousal maintenance or support. Files from previous litigation, especially judgments that have been entered against you, may be necessary. Files from previous attorneys may also be necessary.
A List of Your Debts and Financial Transactions
You will need to make a detailed list of all of your debts, whether you intend to repay them or not. You’ll need to include your account number, how much you owe, and full contact information for the creditor. In addition to your bank account information, you’ll need to provide documentation on a certain property or money transfers for at least the last two years.
You will also need to include documentation on any money or property you have given away or sold, your closed bank accounts, and debts you have paid off. Gathering all of these documents are records can be time-consuming and challenging. If you are not sure where to start, we recommend reaching out to an experienced attorney.