Filing for Chapter 7 involves you providing your chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney with documents about your financial status so that they can prepare other documents for your review, signature, and filing with the Bankruptcy Court. Other documents will also be provided to the Chapter 7 Trustee, but not filed with the Court. The specific requirements can vary by jurisdiction, so it’s essential to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney familiar with local practice.
However, here is a general list of some of documents commonly required during a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case:
Some of the documents you will have to provide your attorney:
1. Identity Documents:
Driver license, government issued photo identification card, social security card, Permanent U.S. Residency (“Green”) Card
2. Asset Documents:
Real Property: Deeds, leases, insurance policies
Personal Property: Bank statements, retirement account statements, vehicle titles and registrations, insurance policies, documents related to any corporation or limited lability company in which you have an interest and the assets of those entities
3. Debt Documents:
- Real Property related: Notes, Mortgages, Lines of Credit, monthly billing statements, lawsuits and related documents, judgment liens
- Personal Property related: Vehicle loan documents, installment agreements, monthly billing Priority Debt related: Alimony and child support orders, tax returns and IRS letters
- General Debts: Credit card statements, student loan statements, SBA loan statements, personal loan statements, medical bills, old phone and utility bills, lawsuits and related documents, judgments
4. Income Documents:
Recent pay stubs or other proof of income for the six months leading up to the bankruptcy filing, tax Returns
5. Expense Documents:
Monthly mortgage or rent statements, utility bills, monthly vehicle lease or loan statements, other monthly installment payment statements, monthly student loan statements, tuition or child care statements, alimony and/or child support related documents
Some of the documents that will be filed with the Court:
6. Credit Counseling Certificate, Bankruptcy Petition and Schedules:
To be permitted to file a bankruptcy, you must complete an on-line credit counseling course that lasts about 45 minutes. Upon completion, the course provider will issue you and your attorney a completion certificate. The Petition is the document that actually initiates the bankruptcy case.
In it, you declare who you are, where you live, and what type of bankruptcy you are filing. The Schedules detail your assets, debts, income, and expenses.
7. Debtor’s Statements of Current Monthly Income and Calculation of Disposable Income:
These documents comprise the “means test” and state the amount of disposable income you project you will have each month to pay to you general unsecured creditors. To qualify for Chapter 7, this figure must be at or near zero.
8. Debtor’s Statement of Intentions:
This document states what you intend to do with debts that are secured by property you own or lease, such as your home, other real property, and vehicles. You can surrender the collateral and discharge the debt, or keep the collateral and “reaffirm” the debt. In limited situations where you are “upside down” on a car (you owe more than the car is worth), a reduced reaffirmation can be negotiated where you only reaffirm an amount equal to the value of the car, instead of the whole amount owed on the debt. Another option is to redeem collateral by paying the value of the collateral in one lump sum, instead of agreeing to abide by the original loan terms.
It’s important to note that these lists are not exhaustive, and additional documents are required to successfully navigate the very complex Chapter 7 bankruptcy process. Consulting with and retaining an experienced and competent Miami bankruptcy attorney to represent you in your Chapter 7 is a must, otherwise you are at risk of having your case dismissed. Perhaps most importantly, an experienced and knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney will help you avoid problems with the Chapter 7 Trustee and help you avoid having to pay anything to the Chapter 7 Trustee when possible. Many unrepresented debtors and debtors represented by inexperienced or in attentive attorneys end up paying Chapter 7 Trustees thousands of dollars that could easily be avoided with proper planning and execution of a strategy devised at the time of the consultation.