One of the biggest hurdles we have in getting our clients cases filed is that our clients take a long time to gather their paperwork needed to complete their bankruptcy petition. Since the Reform Act of 2005 was enacted a bankruptcy practitioner’s need to gather and keep in his file a large amount of paperwork has increased. Part of the reason is the potential of a random audit on your case by the United States Trustee’s Office. If your file is chosen for an audit, all of the paperwork used to complete the petition will have to be provided to the Trustee’s office to verify the accuracy and truthfulness of the petition. Thus, it is vitally important for the information be received by your attorney prior to the preparation and filing of your petition as this paperwork will need to be kept in the file.t
So what is the required paperwork? For starters, we now need to collect 6 months worth of pay information from our clients so that we can complete the Means Test. The six months needed is always the 6 months prior to filing. So for example, if your petition is to be filed in July, you would need to supply pay stubs for the months of January through June. You would also need to supply documentation for any other income you may have had during that period. This would include profit and loss statements if you are self employed, Social Security income, pensions, rent, part-time jobs, contributions from family members, unemployment or worker’s compensation, etc.
You will also need to supply your last four years of tax returns, as your attorney is required to keep those in his file. You will need to supply statements for all of your creditors, which include addresses and account numbers for these creditors, as these must be listed on your petition so that proper notice may be sent to these creditors. This includes statements for mortgage companies, car loan statements, credit card statements, personal loans, medical bills, etc. You must list all of your creditors on your petition. You cannot pick and choose who you would like to list and who you would like to leave off. You must provide a complete picture of your assets and your debts.
Speaking of assets you will need to provide copies of all Deeds, car titles, bank account statements, retirement account statements, investment account statements, etc.
In order to help prepare your budget, you will need to provide copies of your utility bills, water and sewer bills, insurance bills (life, car, etc), condo association bills, basically copies of bills for anything that you will continue to pay after the filing of your bankruptcy case.
Finally, if you own real estate, you will most likely have to have a Comparative Market Analysis(CMA) prepared by a realtor so as to value your home or real estate investments. At least in my office, if you can provide all of that information to us, we can have your petition completed in a day if necessary. The delays happen when clients drag their feet on getting everything together. This only creates a problem when there is an emergent basis that the petition needs to be filed. Like to stop a Sheriff’s Sale , wage garnishment or bank levy.
So if you really want the process to go smoothly, put all of that paperwork together prior to meeting with your bankruptcy attorney.