Bankruptcy: Initial Document Filings

A bankruptcy case is initiated by filing the bankruptcy petition. The petition provides basic information about the debtor including their name, address, and a list of prior bankruptcy filings. However that isn’t the only document that must be filed. Debtors must file a set of schedules that disclose their assets, creditors, parties who share liability for their debts, leases and executory contracts, monthly income, and a budget.

In addition, several different types of statements must also be filed. The first is the Statement of Financial Affairs. This document is a list of questions about the debtor’s financial history. The second statement is a Chapter 13 Statement of Current Monthly Income in a Chapter 13 case or the Means Test in a Chapter 7 case. In Chapter 13 cases this document determines the duration of the bankruptcy case and whether the debtor has disposable income that can be used to provide payments to the unsecured creditors listed in the schedules. In Chapter 7 cases the Mean Test determines disposable income as well, but it does so in order to determine the debtor’s eligibility for a discharge in a Chapter 7 case. If their disposable income is too high then the debtor may not be able to file a Chapter 7 case and receive a discharge.

Debtors must also file a document that verifies their social security number, a matrix which provides addresses for all of their creditors, and a notice which acknowledges that they have been given basic information about the various options available to them under the Bankruptcy Code and the penalties for violating the law in bankruptcy cases. In addition, Chapter 13 debtors file a reorganization plan that explains how the debtor proposes to repay their creditors.

These are the main documents filed in a consumer bankruptcy case but it is not an exhaustive list. There are additional documents required in all bankruptcy cases, and Trustees in each division may have their own list additional documents that they require for cases administered by their office. For a complete list of documents needed to file bankruptcy, consult a local bankruptcy attorney.