Many people fail to obtain the fresh start they need because they make mistakes on the forms, forget to include certain documentation, or attempt to complete the entire process on their own. Fortunately, our team at The Buchalter Law Group is here to help you take full advantage of these powerful preparation strategies.
In bankruptcy, accuracy is vital for your success. Your forms must be consistent with information on your credit report as well as all included documentation. The documents you will need to submit depend on the type of bankruptcy you file, but gathering everything ahead of time will help you and your attorney develop a comprehensive understanding of your situation and set reasonable expectations for your future.
Before filing, here are just a few of the documents you will want to collect:
- Tax returns
- Credit reports
- Mortgage, loan, and billing statements
- Investment/retirement statements
- Identification (driver’s license and Social Security card)
- Proof of earned income (e.g. bank statements, income statements/pay stubs, Proof of Income letter, etc.)
- Proof of unearned income (e.g. court-ordered arrangements for alimony or child support, statements of government benefits or workers’ compensation, etc.)
If you are missing some of this documentation, your attorney can help you determine whether your bankruptcy filing will succeed without it. The tax returns you need, for example, depend on whether you are filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Listing and Appraising Assets
Determining the value of your property may be a challenge, but this process is required for bankruptcy. Each state has different laws that govern which assets you will need to list. In most cases, however, real estate and vehicles are most important, while certain personal items like clothing may not matter. Additionally, old and worn-out possessions will likely hold little to no value.
Here are ways you may be able to appraise your:
- Personal possessions—find the secondary marketplace value (via Craigslist, eBay, or thrift stores)
- Furs and jewelry—obtain written appraisals from licensed appraisers
- Art—determine how much you paid for it or obtain an official appraisal
- Vehicles—find the value through Kelly Blue Book, NADA, or CarMax
- Real estate—obtain an appraisal from a licensed real estate appraiser
Completing a Credit Counseling Course
The U.S. Department of Justice requires all bankruptcy filers to complete a credit counseling course through an approved agency. You must do this before filing, as the certificate of completion is one of the requisite documents for your bankruptcy forms.
Protecting Your Funds
If you are about to file bankruptcy, your creditors may be considering drastic methods of debt collection, such as garnishment or bank levies. To prevent losing access to your wages and bank account, consider withdrawing funds or transferring to a bank you don’t owe. You can also cancel automatic payments and direct deposits. A skilled attorney can help you determine whether these methods will be necessary and/or effective.
Retain Qualified Counsel for Step-By-Step Assistance
The better you prepare, the easier your bankruptcy will be. If you want this process to help you build the foundations you need for a secure financial future, let The Buchalter Law Group support you from beginning to end. Our attorneys have over four decades of collective experience assisting clients through bankruptcy, and you deserve to benefit from our level of skill and knowledge.