During our initial Chapter 7 Bankruptcy consultation, I will go over a list of documents I need to analyze your financial circumstances. I will ask that you prepare and deliver copies of the documents requested, and that you retain your originals. These documents, which will include items such as pay stubs, bank statements and household bills, will help me prepare your Means Test. A Means Test is an assessment that I will perform for you as part of my package of services to determine if you qualify for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.
There are three main categories of documents required to prepare your Means Test to determine qualification for bankruptcy, and ultimately to prepare and file your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition. These categories are as follows:
INCOME: Your income information is the most important data that I will gather from you to perform your Means Test. Evidence of income includes such items as paystubs (also known as “pay advices”), unemployment benefit statements, social security payment reports, or if you are self-employed and own your own business, a profit and loss statement to provide evidence of your income sufficient to move your case along in the Bankruptcy process.
ASSETS: Lists of assets and supporting documentation will help me determine what you own and how I can seek to exempt your property so you can keep it. If you own a home, a vacation property or other real estate, I will ask that you provide me with a copy of your recorded deed, a HUD-1 settlement statement and proof of mortgages, if any. If you own a timeshare, I will also request copies of maintenance fee invoices. If you own a car, I will ask that you provide me with a copy of the current registration, proof of insurance including the declaration page of the policy and a premium statement showing how much you pay to continue the coverage. If a car is leased, I will ask for a copy of the lease, or if a car is financed I will ask for a copy of the monthly payment coupon. I also request that you provide us with a Kelly Blue Book value of any vehicle including boats, trailers and recreational vehicles such as motorcycles and quads. Other documents requested regarding your assets will include appraisals of any antiques or collectibles you may own, copies of stock certificates and bond information. I will also require that you furnish a list of the contents of your home with the date of purchase and the value for each item.
DEBTS (OR LIABILITIES): You will be required to give me copies of all your bills and I will request that you pull three credit reports (one from each major credit reporting bureau). These bills and evidence of debts found on your credit reports, will be used to list your creditors (people and entities you owe money to) on your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition. These will include secured debts (such as mortgages and car loans) and non-secured debts (such as credit card and medical bills), as well as household bills (those bills which you will continue to pay regardless of ever having filed for bankruptcy, such as your utility bills or daycare receipts). Debts that are dischargeable in Bankruptcy may also include taxes. (Stay tuned for future blog posts on what taxes are, in fact, dischargeable in Bankruptcy!)
Please keep in mind, that the foregoing blog is not a complete list of all documents necessary to analyze your financial circumstances and prepare your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition. This blog is only an overview of those documents. Other documents may be required and requested by our firm or a Bankruptcy Trustee during the Bankruptcy Process.