Documents Needed to Get Your Bankruptcy Case Started – A Growing List

One of the most significant changes many bankruptcy lawyers have noted since the enactment of the new bankruptcy law (BAPCPA) has to do with the volume of information that prospective debtors need to provide to me prior to filing. While there is no doubt that misinformation about the new bankruptcy law has suppressed filings, many honest, hardworking debtors get frustrated with having to locate and produce all the documents needed for filing.




At a minimum, the following documents are necessary – preferably at the time of your first appointment with your lawyer, and absolutely before your case is actually filed:

  1. pay stubs for all earners in household for current month and 6 previous months
  2. copies of tax returns for previous 3 years
  3. copies of insurance declarations page – home and auto
  4. copy of driver’s license and Social Security card (or some other proof of Social Security number)
  5. copies of credit reports from all 3 credit bureaus (or we request credit reports at our first meeting)
  6. a completed bankruptcy intake questionnaire
  7. pre-bankruptcy credit counseling certificate
  8. written car valuation estimates from CarMax or equivalent

As you might imagine, this is quite a bit of homework, so, if you see bankruptcy as even a remote possibility, you should create a file where you can gather this information.

Bankruptcy debtors would also be wise to start saving receipts for everything you purchase and to keep those receipts in a file. In the event that the U.S. Trustee investigates a case for a possible Motion to Dismiss or in the event of a “random” case audit in the future, these receipts will have to be produced.

Consumer bankruptcy cases have become very paper intensive and the days when a debtor could come to court with good faith estimates are over. If you know this and prepare accordingly, you will find the bankruptcy filing process much less painful.

by Jonathan Ginsberg, Atlanta bankruptcy lawyer

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