After a determination is made whether a chapter 7 bankruptcy or a chapter 13 bankruptcy would be better suited to solving your debt situation, it is time to get the ball rolling and start the process.
You should be warned that bankruptcy – as with most things in the law – involves a lot of paperwork. The typical consumer bankruptcy filing is roughly sixty (60) pages long with information on your income, assets, debts, and financial transactions over the last few years.
Gathering the Required Paperwork
At the Skiba Law Group we require that you make copies of the following documents and submit them to our office so that we can draft the bankruptcy petition and schedules:
- Copies of Social Security Cards and Photo Identification
- Paycheck Stubs for the last seven (7) months
- Copies of life insurance policies
- Copies of vehicle titles
- Copies of Deeds of Trusts on any real estate
- Most recent statement for any retirement accounts
- Last two years of completed tax returns
- Copies of any court judgments
- Bank statements for all accounts for the last six (6) months
- Copies of most recent bills or collection notices
- Copies of divorce decree (if applicable)
- All legal documents related to wage garnishments
In addition to obtaining copies of these documents we also require that you complete a forty-five (45) page questionnaire on what assets you own and recent financial transactions.
I know what you are thinking – this will take forever. And it likely will take a fair amount of time for you to gather these documents. But the good news is that the work you will need to do in gathering documents is heavily situated towards the beginning of your bankruptcy case, and if you are thorough in preparing the required documents the actual bankruptcy filing and case itself should be pretty smooth.
Once you turn the work into your attorney they will review all of the documentation to make sure that everything that is needed has been provided and then they will begin drafting the bankruptcy petition and schedules.
The Credit Counseling Requirement
Prior to filing a bankruptcy case you must complete an approved credit counseling course. This is a requirement that began back when the Bankruptcy Code was revised back in 2005.
The credit counseling course is completed online and typically does not take more than an hour. The credit counseling course is an informational class that gives you general financial and budget tips as you prepare for a bankruptcy filing.
I have had many clients express concern about taking this course and it is important to remember that this is for informational purposes only and you will not be quizzed on the material.
It is important to know that while taking this course is not a big deal it is mandatory that this course be completed prior to your bankruptcy filing. If you are facing wage garnishment or foreclosure and need to file bankruptcy quickly you must complete this course prior to filing.
Signing Your Bankruptcy Documents
When you file your bankruptcy documents with the Court you do so attesting that the information in those documents is true and accurate. In fact, when you sign them you do so under penalty of perjury. This means that if you are lying or misrepresenting any of the facts in your bankruptcy you are opening yourself up to serious consequences including having your bankruptcy discharge revoked, fines, and even jail.
With this in mind at the Skiba Law Group before any bankruptcy case is filed we sit down with each client and go through every page of your bankruptcy filing to make sure that your information is correct. This must happen prior to the filing of your case and is an important final step prior starting the actual court process.
Now that your bankruptcy documents have been prepared, credit counseling completed, and your final review and signing done, it is time to schedule your filing.
In the next installment I will discuss the importance of the timing of your bankruptcy filing as well as some of the powerful features of a bankruptcy filing…