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Thinking Of Filing For Bankruptcy? Here Are The Documents You’ll Need To Get Started.

Thinking Of Filing For Bankruptcy? Here Are The Documents You’ll Need To Get Started.

By |April 11th, 2013|

bankruptcy filing documents neededThinking of filing for bankruptcy? Make the process go more smoothly by getting to work quickly.

One of the worst parts of my job as a bankruptcy lawyer is telling my clients what documents they need to get me in order to get the process rolling.

That’s right – it’s worse than talking about the legal fees they’re going to need to pay to hire me.

Fees are easily handled because, for the most part, they’re a flat dollar amount paid in installments. It may take time to get the money together, but the effort is minimal.

Documents, on the other hand, require some heavy lifting.

Here’s the deal.

Why We Need So Many Documents For Your Bankruptcy Filing

The bankruptcy laws are exacting in the amount of information that’s required to draft your petition and related documents. In the old days it may have been simpler, but don’t be fooled – a good bankruptcy lawyer always asked for as much documentation as possible.

Not only do I need information in order to get the case in shape for filing with the court, I’m usually going to ask for things that may be required later on. I find that it’s easier to get all our ducks in a row early in the game so we can avoid surprises and delay later on.

And that’s what you want, isn’t it?

When I Need Documents From You

Most of the time, you won’t need much to have an initial evaluation with me – your most recent pay stub, maybe a statement from a car lender or mortgage company. If you’re being sued I’d like you to have that handy as well.

For the most part, we’ll spend our first meeting together as a sort of fact-finding tour. I’ll ask you questions, you’ll ask me some, and together we can map out a plan of attack.

When we’ve got a sense of whether I can help, we’ll start working on documents. That’s where the heavy lifting comes in.

Documents You’ll Need For Your Bankruptcy Filing

This is the bare minimum list of what I’ll need from you to get your bankruptcy case filed:

  • copies of all of your pay stubs for the current month and 6 previous months – from all jobs you’ve held during that time;
  • copies of all of your spouse’s pay stubs for the current month and 6 previous months – from all jobs he or she has held during that time;
  • copies of tax returns for previous 4 years;
  • copy of driver’s license and Social Security card;
  • copies of all bills and collection letters;
  • copy of your car title, if you own or are financing a car;
  • most recent statement from your car lender, showing the payoff balance of each loan;
  • most recent statement from your mortgage lender, showing the payoff balance of each loan;
  • information on all pension plans, IRAs, 401k, and 403B plan;
  • completed Household Expense Sheet (we’ll provide it for you); and
  • completed Household Inventory List (again, we’ll provide it for you).

There may be more documents I’ll ask from you depending on your situation, but this is a good starting point.

Don’t Let Documents Get In The Way

Yes, the list of document I need for your bankruptcy filing seems daunting. Yes, it will take you some time to get it all together into a package for me.

But think of it this way: you can put in some work to get out of debt, or you can let it scare you off and remain in a deep financial hole for a long time.

Spend a few hours, get out of debt. Seems like a fair trade, don’t you think?

Image courtesy of  Drift Words

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About the Author:

I've been a consumer protection lawyer since 1995, working to help people end their bill problems. I'm a faculty member at the Student Loan Law Workshop, a nationally recognized speaker, and a long-time member of both the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and National Association of Consumer Advocates.