In order to have a successful Chapter 7 case, you need to do your part in providing us with the information and documentation required by the bankruptcy laws. The following is a brief list of what we will need from you so that we can move forward with successful filing and completion of your case.
Proof of Income for the Last 6 Months
The bankruptcy law requires that we provide proof of all sources of income for the 6 months before you file your bankruptcy. This includes income from all sources, including, but not limited to the following items:
- Pay stubs
- Proof of Unemployment Income
- Proof of Social Security Income
- Proof of Child Support
- Proof of food stamps
- Proof of disability income
- If you are self employed, we need documentation of your income from all available sources and all other proof that you can supply, including profit and loss statements, bank statements, and other business records.
- There is also a special rule that requires each and every pay stub and other proof of income for the 60 day period before your bankruptcy has been filed. By way of example, if we file your bankruptcy on July 1, in addition to the above, we need proof of all income for the period from May 1 through June 30.
All of this information is required before your case can be filed with the Court.
Tax Returns for the Last Two Years
We need a copy of your tax returns for the year 2006 and 2007. This is required in order for your case to be filed with the Court.
If You Own Real Estate, the Following Is Required:
- Proof of your mortgage payments
- Proof of the mortgage pay-off – meaning, the amount of money you would have to pay the mortgage company to pay off your mortgage in full. This is required for each mortgage on your home or any other real estate that you own.
- Proof of the value of all real estate that you own. This includes time shares, vacant land, and condos. The Court will require what is called a market analysis or an appraisal. These normally cost $100.00 as a minimum, and possibly as much as $300.00, depending on how detailed the appraisal is. For Cumberland County clients, we normally recommend John Randanella for appraisals. He charges $100. His phone number is 825-9517. If you get a recording, leave a detailed message and he will get back to you promptly. Proof of the value of all of your property by way of market analysis or appraisal is required before your bankruptcy can be filed with the Court.
- We need a copy of the deed for every property that you own.
It is very important that we have documentation of the value of your property and the payoff of each mortgage. The main reason for this is because in order to wipe out your unsecured bills in a Chapter 7, you normally have to demonstrate that you do not have more than $20,200 equity per owner in your residence. The amount of equity you are permitted to have in non residential property is much lower.
If you have more equity in your real estate than permitted by the bankruptcy laws, it may not be helpful for you to file chapter 7, and you might be better off filing a chapter 13 plan to repay some of your unsecured creditors. If this situation applies to you, we will discuss with you in detail the various legal options you have.
Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Program
Credit counseling must be completed before your bankruptcy is filed. The charge for credit counseling before bankruptcy is usually $50.00. It is usually very simple and straightforward, and it normally can be done by a phone conference that takes about 45 minutes or less. Credit counseling can also be done online. This session must be done anytime within 180 days before your bankruptcy has been filed. You can even do the counseling session on the same day that your bankruptcy is filed, as long as the counseling session is completed and you get a certificate of completion. After that, we can file the bankruptcy for you.
You also have to complete a debtor education program which also costs $50.00 and which is also very straightforward and simple. If you don't do this before your bankruptcy is listed for discharge (usually within 90 days after your bankruptcy petition has been filed), your bankruptcy case can be dismissed without a discharge, and it would be quite costly to reopen your case, so you must make sure to complete the debtor education program. You can call the Money Management International Counselors at 877-895-2227 to set up this session. If you have any trouble setting up this session, please let us know immediately. This is very important. If you don't get a discharge, your creditors can come after you and you have wasted time and money by being in bankruptcy.
Requirement to Pay Mortgage Payments
If you are making mortgage payments, you are required to keep up with all regular mortgage payments after your bankruptcy has been filed, unless you are surrendering your property.
Requirement to Pay Car Payments
If you are making car payments outside of your bankruptcy, you must continue to make those car payments on time, unless you choose to surrender the car and be released of the debt.
If you are making a rent payment outside of your bankruptcy, you must continue to make these payments on time.
Child Support Payments
Regular child support payments must be made on time after you file for bankruptcy.
Personal Injury Claims, Malpractice Claims, and Other Law Suits
If you have a lawsuit pending or a possible lawsuit that you intend to pursue when you file your bankruptcy, this must be disclosed in the bankruptcy petition and you must let us know. These items are considered assets that we have to disclose to the bankruptcy court. Failure to disclose the existence of these claims can lead to dismissal of your bankruptcy case and denial of a discharge, meaning that you will not be protected from your creditors.
Please be sure to let us know of any personal injury claims, malpractice claims, or other claims (such as if people owe you money) that you are pursuing or intend to pursue where you might get money in the future.