There is a fair amount of paperwork that needs to be filled out in order to properly file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. The best way to make sure that your paperwork is properly prepared and filed, is to work with an experienced St. Louis bankruptcy lawyer.
The court is interested in your complete financial status. They want to know all about your current employment or other sources of income. They want to know all about your assets, personal property, debts, and other obligations. Other areas of interest involve where you spend your money, charitable donations, tax burdens, creditor information, and whether or not you have sold or given away anything in the last two years.
Let’s take for example your creditors: The law states very clearly that all of your creditors have a right to be notified upon the filing of your bankruptcy petition. In order to satisfy this rule, your Missouri bankruptcy attorney will undoubtedly run a credit report for you, which will in turn provide a history of your creditors and debts that are currently owed. However, not all of your debts may show up on the credit history report. Sometimes the creditors assembled on the report represent only a partial listing of the debts that you actually owe. Some creditors simply do not report the debt to the credit bureau (frequent examples of such creditors include hospitals and doctor’s offices). So even if you run the three big credit reporters, those debts will not be listed. As a result, most bankruptcy attorneys will ask that you write out all of your creditors by name, and include the amount owed, account number, and mailing address. This way, there is a much greater likelihood that all of your creditors will receive proper notification.
Another example would be the valuation of your personal goods. Unless you are really good friends with your bankruptcy attorney, and he/she is a frequent guest in your home, the attorney is most likely not going to know what sort of personal property you own or the value of said property. The court requires that you provide a value (usually ‘garage sale value’) for all personal property, so as to get a sense of your other assets. Unless your attorney has access to this valuation, he/she cannot exempt the property so as to ensure that you keep it.
All of this information resides with you. Which means in order for your attorney to successfully file your case, he/she will need you to fill out some paperwork that will provide him/her with the necessary information. It’s a lot of busy work, but if you can commit an entire afternoon to the project, you should be able to have it completely within a few hours.
In addition, the court requires that you disclose certain pieces of information in documented form. For instance, the court will want to know about all sources of household income for the six months prior to filing for bankruptcy. The best documented proof of this income is in the form of pay stubs (sometimes called ‘pay advices’) from your employer which shows things like gross income, deductions, certain exemptions, and net income. Once your bankruptcy attorney has these documents, he/she can enter it into the so-called ‘Means Test’ calculation (the formula which ultimately determines whether you qualify for a bankruptcy filing).
The filing of a bankruptcy can be intricate work, but with the aid of experienced lawyers, your case can go much more smoothly. If you have questions or concerns related to this area, please contact the St. Louis bankruptcy lawyers at The Law Office of Jennifer Alter-Rieken. All phone and office consultation are free of charge.