Forms Required for Filing Bankruptcy –General

When filing bankruptcy, there are a large number of official forms that are required to be completed. While there are several chapters of bankruptcy, all types of bankruptcy require the same bankruptcy forms regardless of the chapter. In other words, even if you are filing a simple Chapter 7 you will use the same bankruptcy forms as a big corporation filing a Chapter 11 and the same forms as someone with a surplus of income used to file a Chapter 13. However, given that all of the different chapters of bankruptcy use the same forms there are many questions that will not apply to Chapter 7 bankruptcies.

In terms of actually completing the forms, you have several options for completing the forms:

  • Forms can be downloaded from the internet and filled out yourself
    • The forms are complicated and you have a duty to fill out the forms completely and accurately. You are signing all the forms under penalty of perjury so stating that you did not understand the forms is not a defense if they are not filled out accurately. Failure to list all property and income on your bankruptcy forms can result in prosecution therefore is it not recommended that you fill out forms on your own.
  • You can hire a bankruptcy petition preparer to complete the forms under your direction
    • Typically bankruptcy petition preparers do not attend the 341 meeting with you which leaves you to meet the trustee at court on your own. The 341 meeting is where the trustee asks questions and verifies that you have listed all of your income and property on your bankruptcy schedules. It is important that you understand the questions that are being asked. If the bankruptcy preparer is not going to prepare you for the 341 meeting and attend the 341 meeting with you then is option is not advised
  • Hire an attorney to handle the entire process for you
    • Hiring an attorney is the recommended way to go if you are filing bankruptcy. However, many people make the mistake of thinking that hiring an attorney means they do not have to do any work in the process. That is not the case. Much of the information required for the bankruptcy is information that your attorney would have no way of knowing such as descriptions and values of personal property. In addition, certain documents need to be provided such as taxes and paystubs. Hiring an attorney is typically the best route if you are considering bankruptcy.