What To Expect When Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
For most people, preparing for your first bankruptcy meeting brings about a great deal of anxiety so we have put together a Chapter 7 bankruptcy checklist to help ease your worries and allow you to be fully prepared.
You have made the difficult decision to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Now what? Well the first step is selecting a bankruptcy attorney and preparing for your first meeting. All bankruptcy attorneys will have their own unique course of action for new clients but generally the first meeting will consist of an overview of your situation, what you are hoping to achieve, and a high level explanation of the bankruptcy process.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Checklist
First and foremost, you should gather all the proper documentation. While this may be a time consuming project, more than likely you have already started this process when you reviewed your finances and made the decision to schedule an appointment with a bankruptcy lawyer. Bringing all the needed documents to your first appointment will allow your bankruptcy lawyer to fully assess your situation and provide you with appropriate guidance for your particular situation.
- Social Security Card or proof of Social Security Number
- Photo Identification (such as a drivers license, student ID, or passport)
- Federal and state tax returns for the two prior years
- Credit reports from the three main credit reporting agencies (a free report can be obtained from annualcreditreport.com)
- Pay check stubs for a minimum of 6 months
- If you are self-employed, profit and loss statements for a minimum of two years
- Proof of any non-wage income received (such as food stamps, child and spousal support, and any government aid)
- Bank Statements for a minimum of 6 months
- Investment and retirement statements for a minimum of 6 months
- Life insurance policies
Debt Related Documentation
- Current copies of all bills including any collection letters (such as credit cards, utilities, medical)
- Current mortgage statement and any foreclosure paperwork
- Current copies of all car loan statements
- Current copies of other loans (such as personal, student, and payday loans)
- Any court judgements or summonses
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Checklist Recap
As you can see the list of documentation is quite extensive but in order for your bankruptcy attorney to accurately assess your situation, they need to review all of the documentation connected to your financial situation. Not only is preparing all of your financial documentation in the beginning helpful for the bankruptcy assessment it will ultimately speed up the process.
Another thing to keep in mind while preparing for your initial bankruptcy meeting, this is not a time to be coy or hide aspects of your situation. Be prepared and open to answer any questions your bankruptcy attorney may have regarding your documents, they are only trying to clarify your situation. Your bankruptcy attorney is there to help you achieve a successful bankruptcy filing and can best do that if you are open, honest and forthcoming with all facets of your financials.