Forms for Filing Bankruptcy
When a person in files for bankruptcy, they file a bankruptcy petition on official Bankruptcy Forms with the Bankruptcy Court appropriate to their jurisdiction. The bankruptcy petition or bankruptcy forms as many refer to them, is actually number of forms, segregated into sections. These sections are the Petition, the Schedules, and the Statement of Financial affairs.
The Petition: The bankruptcy forms that make up the petition give the overall information about the person (Debtor) such as their name, other names used, certifies the amount of their debts, and tells the court whether they are a consumer or business debtor and which chapter of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that the person is filing under.
The Schedules: The Schedules in a Bankruptcy filing consist of all of the assets, debts, and liabilities of the person(s), which in a bankruptcy context they are officially referred to as a Debtor or if there are more than one Co-Debtors. The Schedules are divided for organizational purposes by letters.
- Schedule A lists real estate owned by the Debtor.
- Schedule B lists all personal property owned by the Debtor.
- Schedule C lists the exemptions of property allowed under Texas or Federal law.
- Schedule D lists all secured creditors or debts for which there is security.
- Schedule E lists all priority creditors.
- Schedule F lists all unsecured creditors.
- Schedule G lists all Executory Contracts & Leases.
- Schedule H lists any co-debtors.
- Schedules I and J list the debtor’s income and expenses.
At the end of the Schedules is a declaration, signed by the Debtor, swearing under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the Schedules are true and correct. One of the benchmarks of availing oneself to protection under the Bankruptcy Code is honesty, and candor. The Bankruptcy Schedules show the Bankruptcy Court, your creditors, and all other parties in interest your financial condition at the time of filing so as to provide you the appropriate debt relief under the law. Although it may seem like just filling out some forms, the Schedules can be quite an undertaking with potentially harsh consequences if you make a mistake. If you forget to list something or you list something in the wrong place you can make more work for yourself. Your case could even get dismissed. Should you purposely omit something or provide an intentionally false answer, you could be subject to Federal Criminal charges. The bankruptcy system probably isn’t looking to prosecute a Debtor who may have forgotten to list their family pet on the bankruptcy schedules as an asset but they could.
The Statement of Financial Affairs: The Statement of Financial Affairs is exactly as is reads. It is a Statement of the Debtor’s Financial Affairs. There are a series of questions which the Debtor’s answers to further state the Debtor’s financial condition such as their income over the last few years, transfers of property, debts incurred shortly before filing, gifts to others, losses, lawsuits, location of financial records, and a number of other pertinent pieces of financial information which coincide with the Schedules and Petition. The same accuracy, honesty, and candor are necessary on the Statement of Financial Affairs as with rest of the Bankruptcy Forms. If a Debtor, knowingly and fraudulently conceals property of the estate from a receiver, custodian, trustee, marshal, or other court officer it can be a criminal offense, and may also be punishable by a fine or by up to five years in prison, or both. The same penalties can be imposed for knowingly and fraudulently concealing, destroying, falsifying, or making a false entry in any books, documents, records, papers, or other information relating to the property or financial affairs of a Debtor.
Other Bankruptcy Forms: With latest changes to Bankruptcy Law there is means testing which determines your eligibility to file for Chapter 7. There are forms which accompany a filing that reference the means testing. Additionally, if you file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, a Chapter 13 Individual Debt Adjustment Plan will accompany the bankruptcy filing. Also, Depending on the District where the Bankruptcy Case is filed, there may be local forms or other pertinent documentation which should accompany the bankruptcy filing. If any of the required information pertinent to the filing in a particular Chapter of Bankruptcy or appropriate to a specific Bankruptcy Court Division is not provided properly or timely, the bankruptcy case could be dismissed.
Bankruptcy Form Kits
Bankruptcy form kits are available in many office supply stores. There are also several bankruptcy self-help books available with official bankruptcy forms, as well as many online companies offering downloadable bankruptcy forms kits available on the internet. Some of these companies and self-help books are very informative and are thorough in their explanations. However, if you are contemplating filing bankruptcy and think that it’s just a matter of filling out a few bankruptcy forms, you might want to consider a few things first.
Filing your own bankruptcy or representing yourself in any legal proceeding is your absolute right. Many people have purchased bankruptcy forms and filed their own bankruptcy cases which have been successful. However, since the latest changes to the Bankruptcy Code many more have filed their own bankruptcy cases using bankruptcy forms kits and encountered major problems. Usually, when they encounter a problem they will call a Bankruptcy Attorney to help them out of it. They often end up spending just as much money along with more time and aggravation then had they originally filed bankruptcy with an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney.
There’s no law or formal requirement that says you have to need a lawyer to file bankruptcy (unless it’s a Chapter 11 “business reorganization” Bankruptcy). But if you don’t have any legal experience or any experience dealing with the Bankruptcy Court, the process can be quite frustrating and even to your disadvantage should you encounter a problem. Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in the United States Bankruptcy Court and a Federal matter, so Federal Court is where the proceeding takes place. Depending on where you live in Texas, there are different local rules for each Bankruptcy Court. If you don’t follow the local rules for a particular Bankruptcy Court your case could get dismissed potentially causing more serious problems.
Since the number one thing in common with almost every person who needs to file for bankruptcy is a lack of money, sometimes people will buy a bankruptcy forms kit and file their bankruptcy case without a lawyer. This is known as “Pro Se” and is available to all consumer bankruptcy filers.
There are definite risks involved in “representing yourself” and filing “Pro Se”. The people who work at the Bankruptcy Court are most helpful, but they are not allowed to give legal advice. What you believe may be a simple question to ask a Bankruptcy Court Clerk could actually be considered legal advice if they answer. All too often people will go to the Bankruptcy Court and ask to obtain the “Bankruptcy Forms” from the clerk and then run into a problem. They will usually have a question that needs an answer and will ask the clerk who responds “we are not allowed to give legal advice”. Again, Bankruptcy is more than just filling out some forms. If you don’t prepare your case correctly, your case could be dismissed. In everything you do within your Bankruptcy case, the exact same rules apply to you as if you were a lawyer. Just because you represent yourself, the system won’t cut you any slack.
If your car’s transmission went out, would you fix it your self or bring it to a mechanic? You may know a lot about cars and weigh the cost of going to a mechanic versus your time and material costs and the difficulty of the job.
If there is a plumbing leak in your house, do you call plumber or do you fix it yourself? If you have a toothache, would fix the cavity or pull the tooth out yourself? How would you know it should be pulled if you’re not a dentist? Even a dentist probably wouldn’t pull his own tooth even if he could. So it all comes down to your personal comfort level.
Finally, there is the human element in a Bankruptcy Proceeding which is at the meeting of the creditors, and a confirmation hearing in a Chapter 13 case. Although these hearings may seem routine, what if the Trustee has questions you don’t know how to answer? If there are additional problems with your case such as motion to lift stay, objections to discharge or confirmation, infeasibility of a Chapter 13 plan, then a Bankruptcy Court appearance will be necessary.
If you want to learn more about Bankruptcy, or have questions about Bankruptcy Forms contact the Texas Bankruptcy Attorneys at The Law Offices Of R.J.Atkinson. We have helped thousands get a fresh start in Bankruptcy and we might be able to help you file for bankruptcy. If you have filed for bankruptcy “Pro-Se” or on your own and have run into trouble, we may be able to help.
If you live in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Waco, San Marcos, Plano, Sugarland, Denton, Richardson, Sherman, Round Rock, Georgetown, or most anywhere in the State of Texas contact the Texas Bankruptcy Lawyers at The Law Offices Of R.J.Atkinson. An experienced Texas Bankruptcy Lawyer can help you decide if filing bankruptcy is the best option for you to get rid of your debt, significantly reduce your debt, or reorganize your debt.
About Bankruptcy Forms — Contact Texas Bankruptcy Lawyer R.J.Atkinson
Texas Bankruptcy Attorneys: 800-436-9056