When filing for bankruptcy, be prepared to gather your documents. Without them, we won’t be able to prepare your court papers properly.

If you’re like most people, you don’t keep track of every scrap of paper in your life. Bills get tossed out, financial documents lost in the shuffle.

Life’s messy, after all.

When you decide to file for bankruptcy, however, those papers suddenly take on a new meaning and importance.

Record-Keeping In Bankruptcy

Part of the deal in the bankruptcy law is that you provide full and complete information about all of your debts (not just the ones on which you’ve fallen behind) and all of your property.

That information gets poured into your court papers, and without it your documents can’t get filed with the bankruptcy court.

In addition, part of the bankruptcy code holds that your case can be denied if it’s found that you destroyed your financial records.

For those reasons, we’ll usually ask you for a laundry list of documents before your bankruptcy case can be readied for signature and, ultimately filing with the court.

Documents We May Ask You For

Depending on your situation, we are going to ask you for the following:

General Documents

  • all bills and collection letters for credit cards, personal loans, store cards, student loans, tax bills, etc. whether they are up-to-date or not;
  • most recent statements for all checking, savings, money market, mutual fund, certificate of deposit, stock and/or bond and/or securities accounts that are currently open and in my name even if the money is being held for someone else;
  • pay stubs for all employers for the past six months;
  • federal and state income tax returns with all W-2 and/or 1099 forms for the past 2-4 years;
  • copy of your Social Security Card;
  • copy of your NYS Driver License;
  • completed Pension and Retirement Plan Sheet (click here for a PDF blank version of this form);
  • completed Household Inventory Sheet (click here for a PDF blank version of this form).

Expense-Related Documents

  • Completed Household Expense Sheet (click here for a PDF blank version of this form);
  • Copy of your current apartment lease, if you have a formal lease with your landlord;
  • Copy of any gym membership that is currently in effect;
  • Copy of any cell phone contract that is currently in effect (call your cell phone company to find out the terms of your agreement and expiration date if needed);
  • Most recent utility bills for cable/satellite TV, telephone, gas, electricity, car insurance, etc. even if your name is not on the bill.

If You Are Married And Living With Your Spouse

  • Your spouse’s pay stubs for all employers for the past six months; and
  • List of your spouse’s separate expenses.

If You Have A Motor Vehicle In Your Name

  • Statement issued within the past 2 months from all car lenders showing the balance due to pay every car note in full;
  • registration or title for every vehicle you own.

If You Own Any Real Estate In Your Name

  • Statement issued within the past 2 months for every mortgage and/or second mortgage and/or home equity loan statement showing the balance due to the pay the mortgage and/or loan off in full
  • copy of the deed (title) to every home, condominium, cooperative apartment unit, timeshare, or piece of vacant land that has your name on it even if that real estate is located outside of the United States or is in another country; and
  • Appraisal or letter from real estate broker dated within the past 2 months showing the fair-market value of every home, condominium, cooperative apartment unit, timeshare, or piece of vacant land that has your name on it even if that real estate is located outside of the United States or is in another country (do not provide us with a tax assessor’s valuation – this is not a statement or indication of the market value).

Might Be More, Might Be Less – But Don’t Panic!

Part of the work of a good bankruptcy lawyer is to keep you out of trouble with the court.

The rest of the work involves making your case a success.

For that reason, we may ask you for more documents. And we may ask for less paperwork. Either way, doing your part allows us to do our part.