In Bankruptcy Information, Bankruptcy Questions, Filing pro se

Yesterday we talked about the Means Test and how to fill out Form 122A-1 properly to see if you qualify for Chapter 7. Assuming you do, the next step is to gather all the information needed to prepare the schedules and statements. In future posts I’ll go over each schedule individually. Before even starting to complete any of the Official Forms, it’s helpful to have all the information necessary to complete them.

The purpose of the bankruptcy petition, schedules and supporting statements is to give the trustee and the Bankruptcy Court information about your financial status. The trustee is the person charged with the task of determining what assets you have that he might be able to sell so he can use that money to make a distribution to your creditors. Much of your property is exempt, meaning the trustee is not permitted to sell or use that property. All your property must be disclosed so that the trustee and the Court can determine whether the exemptions you claim apply to the property that you claim those exemptions on.

Documents that must be filed.

Here are the schedules and other forms that must be completed. All forms must be filed, even if there is no information on them (such as the debtor doesn’t own any real property to list on Schedule A).

Summary of Assets and Liabilities: Much like a balance sheet this lists the assets by group and liabilities by type.
Schedule A: Real property such as houses, land, rentals, time shares, mobile homes.
Schedule B: Personal property. This is everything else a person could possibly own.
Schedule C: Property claimed as exempt. It’s up to the debtor to claim exemptions in their property. If it isn’t claimed as exempt, the trustee can take it.
Schedule D: Secured claims. These are claims where the debtor has pledged something as collateral.
Schedule E: Priority claims. These claims are entitled to priority in payment and include taxes, domestic support obligations (alimony, child support, etc.) among others.
Schedule F: General unsecured claims. These are all other debts.
Schedule G: Unexpired leases and executory contracts. These are obligations that the debtor or another party still has to perform.
Schedule H: Codebtors. This is a list of all persons who are also obligated on any of the debtor’s debts, such as co-signers.
Schedule I: Income. This is a snapshot of all the debtor’s income as of the filing date.
Schedule J: Expenses. A snapshot of the debtor’s living expenses as of the filing date.
Statement of Financial Affairs or SOFA: A series of questions regarding the debtor’s financial situation
Statement of Social Security Number: A statement attesting to the accuracy of the debtor’s social security number.
Current Monthly Income: The Means Test. See yesterday’s post for a discussion of this form.
Notice to Individual Debtors: A notice required to be given to all individual (as opposed to business) debtors about the different types of bankruptcy available.
Creditor List (Matrix): A list of all creditors with their mailing addresses. This is used by the clerk to give the required notices to the debtor’s creditors.
Verification of Creditor Matrix: A verification by the debtor that the creditor’s list is accurate.
Consumer Credit Counseling Certificate: All individual debtors must take a pre-filing consumer credit counseling course either online or by telephone, receive a certificate showing they completed the course, and file the certificate with the other documents.
Tax Declaration: A declaration attesting to the fact that the debtor has filed all required tax returns for the four years prior to filing bankruptcy OR listing the year for which returns have not been filed.
Compensation Statement for Debtor’s Attorney: If the debtor is represented by an attorney the debtor must file a statement disclosing how much the attorney has been paid and whether anything remains to be paid.

Information You Need

As can be seen, this list is extensive. To help complete the forms, here is a checklist of documents and information a debtor should gather before beginning. You must assign a value to each item of property that you list.

Property
Real estate appraisals or valuation (such as tax notice)
Real estate title documents to verify how property is owned
Mortgage documents
Mortgage loan statement showing current balance
Lease if renting
Automobiles and values
Automobile loan statements showing current balance (both loans and auto leases)
Personal property list.
All household items such as furniture, large appliances, sofas, TVs, beds, tables and chairs, etc.
Clothing
Furs and jewelry
Guns and ammunition
Non-farm animals (pets)
Books, pictures, musical instruments
Hobby equipment (cameras, sporting goods, etc.)
Lawn and yard tools
Hand or power tools

Financial assets
Bank statements for all bank accounts the debtor owns
Retirement account statements, including educational savings accounts
Insurance policies with face amount and surrender value
Brokerage or other investment accounts
Safe deposit boxes and contents
Claims other people owe you such as personal injury claims, debts others owe you
Six months’ pay stubs (you should have that from completing the Means Test)
Income tax returns for past four years
Tax refunds owed to you

Business Related Property
Business equipment or supplies if self-employed
Tools or equipment used in your profession or occupation
Business profit and loss statement if self-employed

Debts
Copies of all unpaid bills
Collection or demand letters received
Lawsuits pending against the debtor, including name of court and case number
Judgments entered against the debtor
Garnishments, repossessions, or foreclosures within the past 12 months
Student loan obligations
Domestic support obligations (child support, alimony, property settlements owed) with copy of court orders or decrees
Tax assessment or collection documents

Once you have this information gathered, you’re almost ready to start completing the forms. Before doing that, though, we must talk about the types of debt: priority, secured, unsecured. That’s tomorrow’s post.

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