Paperwork You’ll Need to Provide to File Bankruptcy
The legal document submitted to the court when a bankruptcy is filed is called a “petition.” When all is said and done a petition can range anywhere from 10-200 pages depending on the debtor’s specific situation. Some information on the petition is self-explanatory such as name, address, and social security number, but the majority of the document requires specific financial information that can only be provided by the debtor. Here are a few key items that you may need to supply to the bankruptcy attorney who is filing your case:
1. Pay Stubs – In most cases your bankruptcy lawyer will request copies of your pay stubs from you in order to accurately calculate your total income. This information is used to determine which Chapter of bankruptcy you will qualify for. If your income is below your state’s median then you may be eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but if your income exceeds the state median it may be best for you to file a Chapter 13. In some states you may be required to submit your spouse’s pay stubs even if they are not filing with you so that the “household” income is correct.
2. Tax Returns – Another financial document requested by many bankruptcy attorneys is prior tax returns. Depending on the chapter of bankruptcy that you file you may be asked to supply 3-5 years’ worth of returns. The information on your tax returns will be used so that the bankruptcy court has the exact figure of your gross wages as well as any miscellaneous income you have obtained throughout the years. If you have questions about how your potential tax refund may be affected by your bankruptcy you should consult with your attorney.
3. Mortgage Statements – If you are a homeowner filing bankruptcy it is likely that you will be asked to supply a copy of your most recent mortgage statement showing your current balance. This information is used by your attorney as well as the bankruptcy court to identify the amount of equity in your home. Equity is calculated by subtracting the balance of your mortgage from the Fair Market Value of your home. Equity in your home is protected by specific state bankruptcy rules called “exemptions” so this figure is extremely important.
This may make it seem like documents will be piling up as soon as you decide to file for bankruptcy, but it really isn’t all that bad. In most cases an organized bankruptcy lawyer will give you a concise list of documents you need to make the paperwork seem minimal. If you are unsure about where to find a certain document that is being requested of you just ask your attorney or someone in your attorney’s office. Shuffling through papers is just a small part of the bankruptcy process and it is well worth it. Once you hand the correct documents to your bankruptcy lawyer they will place the information into your petition and you will be on your way to a debt free life.