What a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney Needs From You To Declare Bankruptcy
If you are considering personal bankruptcy and want to work with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney to determine if you can get rid of debt completely, you will want to start gathering the required information and documents he or she will need to prove your eligibility for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
A Chapter 7 case will allow you to completely eliminate credit card debt, car loans, home loans, overdrawn checking accounts and disconnected utilities, and other various debts or loans, protecting you from any collections on those loans and removing any legal responsibilities for repayment, thus providing you the opportunity to start anew.
Even mortgage foreclosures can be included, and if you had a foreclosure where the mortgage company got less than what you owed on it, you could be held accountable for that loss without a Chapter 7 to remove your legal responsibility towards the loan that was foreclosed upon.
While there is a possibility of also qualifying to eliminate a student loan debt when filing chapter 7 bankruptcy, the laws in place have generally made it next to impossible for that. However, a bankruptcy attorney would be the best one to try to convince the court that it should put your student loan into your bankruptcy claim.
Knowing you’ll have to provide this information and having the forms and paperwork needed beforehand may not only save you some dollars on the bankruptcy attorney fees but may also make the difference between proving yourself eligible for a Chapter 7 or damaging your chances to qualify.
Here is a list of things you should have on hand BEFORE you even step in the front door of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer’s office which will help him or her determine your ability to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy Chapter 7 Attorney Meeting Checklist
- Any summons or letters of intent to sue you have received from any of your creditors
- Most recent credit card statements
- Letters concerning credit cards or debt that have been transferred to a collection agency, sold to another creditor, or placed with a lawyer’s office for collection and possible legal actions
- Car loans, whether you are still paying on time or not
- Mortgage loans
- Other secured and unsecured loans
- Unpaid and disconnected utility bills
- Unpaid doctor and hospital medical bills
- Overdrawn bank accounts
- Student loans (Probably not eligible for discharge, but this info has to be included.)
- Overdue child support (No, you won’t be relived of this parental responsibility, but your lawyer will need this info.)
For the items above, you will want to have an easily readable and organized list that specifically includes the information below:
- Name the debt to identify it.
- Note the creditor’s name.
- List the creditor’s address and phone number.
- Mark the name or names on the account.
- Add the account number of your account.
- Write in what you currently owe.
- Write in the last date you paid, even if you are current.
- Make an additional note if you are late on any payments and if so, how long it has been since you made a payment and how much overdue you are.
You’ll also want to have:
- Information on any foreclosure you have gone through including copies of actual foreclosure
- Insurance coverage you currently have
- Current checking, savings, and investment or retirement accounts
- Current utility companies and other monthly or regular expenditures like dental insurance, medical insurance premiums, deducted amounts from paycheck (include what they are), etc.
You’ll want to cover information for these items as well:
- Your salary and the salary of your spouse
- Copies of your last several paychecks or payment deposits
- Any additional income you regularly receive from anyone
- Any larger assets you own either outright or partially (like cars, a fishing boat, an RV, timeshare, mineral rights… those kinds of things) also including any account info, what you owe, what you think they are worth, and if you would like to keep them (if it is possible in your state to do so)
- Copies of your last two to three years of taxes
Finally, you’ll also want to have handy:
- A budget list of all your average monthly housing and family costs such as rent or mortgage, insurance, electric, cell phones, office and school supplies, gasoline consumption, school fees, car repairs, diapers, medicine, family activities, groceries, etc.
Quick note: As per Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules, your family’s daily needs should be basically as much as your income and much not less. Otherwise, the court may feel you can afford to repay at least some of the debt through a Chapter 13.
So, while you don’t want to hide income and you want to be honest about your family finances and needs, you do want to make sure you are keeping every bit of your family’s living needs in mind when you show your monthly expenses.
If you don’t know how to make a budget for your family, now is the time to learn!
It is good to have copies of all the above items in a folder for your personal bankruptcy attorney to keep in his or her own files, and it is crucial you have an organized list with all this information to give to him or her as well as to keep in your files.
You will be needing this same information when you complete formal bankruptcy worksheets for your attorney and then when that information is included on the filing form your attorney will submit to the U. S. Federal Bankruptcy Court.
If you didn’t know to include something or did not have it at first to include, your attorney can help you with what you still might need to find and have on hand. A bankruptcy lawyer is very knowledgeable of bankruptcy laws and will know know exactly what is needed for your bankruptcy attorney Chapter 7 records.
If you don’t have all of the material you need to get started, you can still speak with an attorney and start the process, but you may or may not have all the information to see if you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy (meaning a complete discharged of debt) or if you will need to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead where you will given and ordered to follow a federally mandated lowered payment of debt for the next three to five years.
When you think you may need to declare bankruptcy and want to talk to someone about that possibility, having as much of your financial history as possible on your very first office visit is the best way to start, and that goes for whether you are seeking a Chapter 7 elimination of debt or speaking with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney about a federally approved and court mandated debt repayment plan.
You can always talk to a legal professional about claiming bankruptcy.
However, if you really want to save on fees, time, and stress on your family, take the time before you start to collect and organize every bit of financial information and correspondence available to have on hand for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney.
It may not be easy to take this kind of time, but you can’t do much without the required information to submit, so get what you need and go on with the marathon.