For some people, gathering the paperwork needed to file for bankruptcy is easy.  They have a filing system and everything is in its correct file.  They save documents they may need at a later time, just in case.  But for everyone else, gathering the documents you will need for a bankruptcy can be time consuming.

At a minimum you will the following important documents:

Tax Returns
Your last three years of tax returns with the schedules and attachments such as W-2s and 1099s.  A lot of people these days do their taxes online and don’t think to print out and save the returns.    If this is you, you can obtain tax transcripts using a from 4506T from the irs.gov website.  If you used a tax service such as H & R Block, you can obtain copies of your tax documents from the tax service.

Paystubs
You will need your last seven months of paystubs from each employer.  If you haven’t saved them, and you are lucky, you can go online and print them out.  If not, you will have to ask your employer for copies of your pay stubs.  These paystubs are needed to complete the means test, which looks at your income for each of the previous six months prior to the filing month to determine weather you fall within the median income requirements for filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Bank Statements
How many bank accounts do you have?  Hopefully not too many.  Bank statements for the past 12 months for each account, including any business accounts, are required.  These statements will help verify your income and expenses.  Often the trustee assigned to your case requests a copy of your bank statements.

Asset Documents
Car titles, real estate tax statements, real estate appraisals, retirement account statements, etc.  Documents pertaining to assets will ensure the asset is properly listed in your bankruptcy schedules and can help determine the value of the asset.

Law Suit Documents
Have you been involved in a lawsuit in the past year?   Copies of judgments and garnishments are needed as they will be required to be listed.  Were you involved in a family law case?  Your financial affidavit/uniform support declaration could be requested by the Trustee.  This would be a statement made about your finances under oath.  In addition, if you are expecting money from a lawsuit, this would also be listed as a potential asset and the trustee would need to determine if any of the money can be collected and whether it is non-exempt and required to be paid out to creditors.

Transfer of Property
Have you sold or given away anything of value?  Transferred items may need to be listed in your bankruptcy filing.  Keep all bills of sale and receipts for your bankruptcy attorney.  Also note, do not sell or give anything away without discussing it first with your bankruptcy attorney.

Expense Documents
A copy of your rental lease, utility bills, and other monthly expense statements can help determine what the average cost you pay monthly for a service is.  When listing expenses, it is important to be as accurate as possible.  These documents can also help determine if there is a past due amount that needs to be listed in the bankruptcy schedules.

Debt Statements
These will help to provide the correct address for your creditors and what the balance on the account is.  Creditors must receive notice of your bankruptcy filing.  If the correct address is not listed and mail is returned, the address will have to be updated with the court and a new notice sent out.  It is always easier to get the address right the first time.

Credit Reports
You can obtain these for free from www.annualcreditreport.com.  This website will direct you to the major credit reporting agencies, Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian, one at a time, to obtain your credit report from each agency.  You can save and print out the reports.   Even if there is a debt you do not agree with, it is important to know about it.  You can list a debt as a disputed debt in your bankruptcy.  It is important not to leave off any creditors to ensure that the debt will be discharged in your bankruptcy.

Conclusion
The sooner you can provide the required documents, the sooner your bankruptcy case can be filed.

If you are considering bankruptcy, start saving these important documents now!  This will save time and effort later.

If you need help in gathering your documents, let us know, we are here to help you.