What We Need From You
The Bankruptcy Reform Act requires that you prepare the following information, and then give it to your lawyer, before you can file chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy. The items listed below are required by law. They are not being requested to satisfy the documentary needs of this office, nor are they being requested based on our standards of legal preparedness. The law specifically requires that you provide this information to your attorney.
- Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Certificate. This must be obtained from a Justice Department-approved credit counseling agency. We recommend that you call Abacus Credit Counseling, (800) 516-3834 to obtain this. “Credit counseling” consists of nothing more than a one hour phone conference, or a one hour internet chat session, about your credit.
- Seven months paycheck stubs, or if self employed, six months income records. If you haven’t been saving them, you will need to ask your payroll office for your last seven months paycheck stubs. If you’re self-employed, you need to prepare month-by-month income and expense, or profit and loss, statements covering the last six months.
- Copy of your last year’s federal and state income tax return. This must be a copy of your actual signed return, containing all W-2 forms, 1099 or 1098 forms, and anything else included in the return. Do not omit anything included in the actual filed tax return.
- Fill out the Client Worksheet Worksheet Bankruptcy Printable Form or the Worksheet Fillable Form. Make sure to read the questions on the worksheet carefully. Year-to-date income figures can be found on your most recent paycheck stub. Past years’ income figures can be found on your past years’ W-2 forms. Assets and property valuations should consist of what you can sell the items for, rather than replacement cost for a new item. Real estate values require some thought, but should consist of current fair market value, and not the tax assessor value. Current household income figures should be based on what you are earning now, and what you will be earning in the near future. Current household living expenses should be based on what you are spending now, and what you will be spending in the near future.
- List of debts. Include every debt you have, even if you owe it to a friend or relative. It is unlawful to leave a debt off your bankruptcy papers. Be sure to include the biggest debts you have, your mortgage and car loans. You must include all debts, even the ones you will continue to pay. You can estimate the amount if necessary, but not on mortgages or car loans. For car loans, provide the balance, interest rate, amount of the monthly payment, and number of payments remaining. If you decide to get a credit report, order it from www.annualcreditreport.com, and print the one from Experian.
- Attorney fees. The law requires that you have a written agreement with your attorney in a bankruptcy case.