We always want our clients’ bankruptcy filings to go smoothly. This list will help you do your part.
1. Stop using your credit cards and don’t incur any additional credit.
Once you have made the decision to file bankruptcy, you should neither use your credit cards nor incur any additional credits from that point forward. Any recent purchases or advances can be held as still due and owing after you file bankruptcy.
2. Take the required credit counseling briefing
Before a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case can be filed, a person must take a credit counseling briefing from an approved credit counseling agency. This credit counseling briefing can be done on the internet or by telephone and must be completed within 180 days prior to filing bankruptcy.
3. File your taxes
You must file your most recent year’s taxes to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief.. A copy of the return will be forwarded to your assigned bankruptcy trustee after your case is filed. You must also provide your most recent tax return to any creditor who requests it.
4. Provide your most recent paychecks
You must provide the most recent 60 days worth of paycheck stubs at the time your case is filed. These will be forwarded to your assigned bankruptcy trustee or may be filed with the clerk of the bankruptcy court. When you file bankruptcy, expect that the trustee will perform a thorough investigation of your assets and your financial transactions for a year or more prior to the bankruptcy. If the trustee determines that you have sold or given away valuable items before filing for bankruptcy protection, this can cause your case to be dismissed.
5. Get Your Paperwork in Order
- Collect all statements from bill collectors.
- Go online and get complete addresses of creditors who may have stopped billing you.
- Check the balances at financial institutions where you bank.
- Look at your recent tax returns to provide your gross income over the past three years.
6. Read your credit reports
If you are unsure of exactly who you may owe, you may want to consider acquiring a copy of your most recent credit reports. Each year you may request a free copy of your credit reports from the three major credit reporting companies.
Even if you are unaware of the creditors listed on your reports, provide those to your attorney anyway. The rule to remember is to list everybody and their grandmother on your bankruptcy petition and schedules. This way you can be assured that you are not leaving anyone out of the bankruptcy filing.
Do not wait until you’ve got all these things finished to call for a free initial bankruptcy counseling session.