Whenever a prospective client contacts me about a bankruptcy I give them a list of documents and information that I need. It’s a fairly standard list that all bankruptcy attorneys ask for, and it’s pretty comprehensive. A lot of clients wonder why I need all this information. The fundamental reason is that it’s my job to make your bankruptcy go as smoothly as possible, without raising red flags that would cause the bankruptcy trustee to start digging into your affairs any more than is necessary. With that in mind, here’s a list of what I ask for and some of the specific reasons I ask for it.
I ask for three months’ bank statements so I can see if there were any unusual deposits or withdrawals. The trustee will ask for the same thing and I don’t want to be caught flat-footed if there is a large deposit and I don’t have an explanation for it.
Four years’ tax returns
Along with you, I have to sign a certification that you have filed your last four years tax returns (to the extent you are required to file). I can’t do that without seeing the actual returns. In addition, if there was a substantial decrease in income during that time, I need to know what happened.
Proof of charitable contributions
It’s perfectly allowable to make charitable contributions as part of your monthly budget. However, if you claim that you make these regular contributions the trustee (and I) need to be assured that you’re actually making them. Sad as it is, some people will lie about making a charitable contribution so they can hide some money in their budget.
Six months of paystubs
In order to qualify for Chapter 7, you have to pass the Means Test. In order to do that we need paystubs from all sources of income during the prior six months (the month of filing isn’t included).
Most bankruptcy attorneys have a questionnaire that we ask clients to complete. This gives all the basic information such as name, address, social security number, property you own, debts you owe, income, monthly expenses and a lot more that is necessary to include in your bankruptcy petition and schedules. It’s long. It’s boring to complete. And it’s absolutely necessary. If it’s incorrect or incomplete, it’s your bankruptcy, not mine, that’s at risk. So please take the time to complete this questionnaire accurately and completely.