Bankruptcy is personal. Whether you file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 depends on your income and expenses, your assets and liabilities, and your personal circumstances. To complete your Chapter 7 non-business bankruptcy petition, you will need to draw from many different documents and sources. This article addresses the most common of those.
Before you hire a bankruptcy attorney, gather up these documents in order to expedite the process.
- You need your tax returns for the previous two years. Currently, this means 2009 and 2010 – it is still early in 2012 so you probably have not yet filed your 2011 taxes. A W-2 will provide supplemental, but not complete, information.
- If you owe back taxes, have the letters from the IRS and the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
- You need paystubs for at least the previous 6 months. From these documents, obtain your average monthly income, gross and net. Your paystubs would also show any garnishment and child support payment deductions.
- If you received unemployment benefits for any part of the previous 6 months, print a copy of your benefits statement. This information may reduce your average monthly income.
- You need your previous month’s financial statements. This includes bank accounts as well as retirement accounts. Each statement will have the account type, account number and balance.
- If you own real property, have a copy of your property tax statement. This document has the “fair market value” and the legal description for the property.
- If you plan to keep your home, have a copy of your mortgage company payment coupon. This document has the mortgage company name and address, account number and payment amount. (This item refers to your first, second and any subsequent mortgage-related creditor.)
- If you own vehicles, have copies of your vehicle registration. These documents show the lienholder’s name and address, if any, as well as the vehicle type and model. Also, note the mileage for each vehicle. With this information, go to the NADA Guides (nadaguides.com) to get its “fair market value.”
- If you plan to keep your vehicles, have a copy of each car loan payment coupon. This document has the loan company name and address, account number and payment amount.
- If you plan to keep your cell phone service, have a copy of the cell phone bill. This document has the provider’s name and address, account number and payment amount.
- You need a recent copy of your credit report. This document will list your creditors and debt information, past and present. You may even be surprised at the information you find here.
- You need a list of all your creditors. List the name, address, account number and debt balance for each. This list should include your mortgage holders, car loans, credit cards, miscellaneous debts, collection agencies (including letters from lawyers), lawsuits and judgments (pending and final), student loans, the IRS and the Minnesota Department of Revenue, as applicable. Miscellaneous bills include your medical and dental bills, utility bills and debts from private creditors.
- The filing fee for Chapter 7 is $306.00. This is paid directly to the Bankruptcy Court.
Again, bankruptcy is personal. Depending on your assets and liabilities and your personal circumstances, you may need additional documents that are not listed here. Review the bankruptcy forms to determine what other requirements apply to you.