Step By Step Instructions for Filing Bankruptcy

Have you been considering bankruptcy as a solution for your debt dilemma? Bankruptcy is a legal alternative available to those who need to receive a fresh start financially. It may also be helpful to know that you are not alone, someone will file for bankruptcy every 15 seconds today.

There is much you can (and will need to) do to get your bankruptcy petition filed. IF you’ve heard that the paperwork is overwhelming, the point of this article is to give you a new perspective: a simple, plain English version of the documents required. This information will also help you better evaluate your options with a qualified attorney.

So what are the documents you will need to provide to obtain a discharge of debts in bankruptcy? For the average case, the documents can be assembled in a matter of hours. The documents fall into these 5 categories:


  1. Copies of your TAXES. If you don’t have copies of your taxes for the last several years, your attorney will be able to order them from the IRS. However, if you have not filed, this would be your first step to prepare for bankruptcy.

    WHY?The law requires being up to date on your taxes as a first step to bankruptcy because taxes are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. To receive the protection of the law, a demonstration of compliance with it is essential.

  2. Identify your ASSETS. On a piece of paper list everything you own in two sections:
    • Personal property:
      • household items: furniture, appliances, hobby items, collectibles
      • office items: computers, cameras or other equipment
      • vehicles: autos, motorcycles, boats etc
      • financial property: cash, stocks, IRAs etc
    • Real property:
      • List property addresses for your home if you own it and any other properties which are in your name.
  3. Identify your INCOME. Write down all the ways you (and your spouse) receive income: paychecks, self employment from your own business, unemployment, public assistance, gifts, support etc. Provide the paystubs or other verification for 7 months to verify those numbers.

    WHY? Income amounts and sources determine which chapter of bankruptcy you qualify for. If you earn regular income in an amount greater than listed on a State based schedule, you will not typically qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and will proceed to a Chapter 13 court approved bankruptcy repayment plan.

  4. Identify your DEBTS. Gather all of your statements and letters from your creditors, lawsuits, judgments. If you have access to your credit report provide that as well or your attorney will help you obtain one.

    WHY? This information is necessary to provide all of your creditors notice of your bankruptcy. It will also be used to identify which of your debts are dischargeable (wiped out) and which are not.*Typically taxes, student loan debts, judgments based on fraud or intentional acts, and support obligations are not dischargeable. But even these may be subject to certain exceptions.

  5. Identify your EXPENSES. Provide a budget your regular monthly expenditures.

    WHY? This information is necessary to inform the court what you are doing with your income. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, this information will help determine that your expenses are legitimate and consistent with plan provisions.

Beyond these items, you will simply need your driver’s license and Social Security card when you go to your (very short and brief) creditor’s meeting. You will also need to complete a credit counseling class (typically $25-45) before filing so it is best to arrange for this as soon as possible. Another personal financial management class after the creditor’s meeting will also be required. King Law Offices recommend Dave Ramsey credit counseling services.

Bankruptcy is intended to bring a fresh start and hope through debt relief; reducing your stress level. Congratulations on taking an active role, your preparation simplifies the process. We hope this information helps reduce your anticipation of what bankruptcy will require from you.

One last piece of advice, pick an attorney who you feel comfortable and confident with as you walk through the door to debt relief. We would be happy to provide you with our trademark personalized attention to your debt resolution needs and years of experience helping people just like you. Please consider our offer for a FREE Bankruptcy and Fair Debt Collection Consultation to help you better evaluate your options.

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