Recently on our bankruptcy forum a user asked, “I am getting ready to file bankruptcy. I understand the process can be very complicated requiring multiple forms and an abundance of financial information. Can you simplify the process and tell me exactly what information I will need to gather to accurately complete the bankruptcy forms?”
Many debtors are overwhelmed when they realize the amount of information they will need to complete all of the required bankruptcy forms. Although hiring a lawyer who can answer your questions can help, they will not complete all the work for you.
First, you will need to complete all of the bankruptcy forms. Referred to as the official bankruptcy forms, these can be found online through the website of the U.S. Courts at www.uscourts.gov/forms/bankruptcy-forms.
What financial information is collected on the bankruptcy forms?
Next, you will need to review the type of information required for each form. Information required generally consist of financial information such as income, monthly expenses, assets, and debts. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
- Income and expenses
One of the forms you will be asked to complete is Schedule I: Your Income. For this form the court needs financial information about your income from all of your income sources. If you and your spouse are married and you are filing together or you are married but filing alone, you will need to include both your spouse’s income and employment information.
You must also include financial information about your gross monthly income and calculate your net monthly income. Other types of income must also be included such as income from rental property, leases, oil rights, investments, alimony, child support, disability payments, public assistance, veteran’s benefits, unemployment compensation, pension payments, or any other monthly payments.
Next, you will need to provide financial information about your monthly expenses. Common expenses can include your housing and utility costs, food costs, auto loan payments, day care costs, educational expenses, insurance premiums, and gas expenses.
- Identify the property you own.
The next step is to identify all of the real and personal property you own. This can include all of your real estate, vehicles, financial assets, jewelry, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, life insurance policies, and any other personal property such as furniture, clothing, dishes, etc.
- Identify all of your debts.
Debts include any money owed with an outstanding balance and potentially an interest payment. When gathering information about your debt payments you will need to document the name of the creditor, their phone number, their address, the name of their company, the amount owed, and the account number.
Getting ready to file for bankruptcy will take a great deal of work. In addition to all of the financial information listed above, in general, you will also have to file all required tax returns.
For those filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy they will have to file all required tax returns for tax periods ending within four years of your bankruptcy filing, continue to pay all current taxes as they come due, and continue to file all required returns.
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