The bankruptcy case begins when the petition is filed. The petition also serves as an order for relief, or a "stay" against any further collection activities against the debtor, until the case is closed or the creditor is awarded relief from the stay.
The petitions for Chapter 7 and 13 are very similar, with Chapter 13 also including a payment plan form and a different means test form. An individual Chapter 7 petition consists of the following:
Voluntary Petition - This three page form lists the name and address of the debtor, the Chapter under which the debtor is filing, certain statistical data, and information about whether the proper court was chosen.
Exhibit D to the Voluntary Petition - This form certifies that the debtor has completed the required pre-filing counseling.
Summary of Schedules and Statistical Summary - These forms provide data for the trustee and for tracking bankruptcy usage.
Schedule A / B - Used for listing any real estate of the debtor, and for listing all non-real estate property of the debtor.
Schedule C - Used to show what exemptions have been applied to what property.
Schedule D - Used to list creditors who have a security interest in the property of the debtor.
Schedule E - Used to list creditors who have priority claims - claims that are often not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
Schedule F - Used to list all other creditors, such as credit card companies and holders of other unsecured claims.
Schedule G - Used to list contracts that require further performance by both the debtor and the other party to the contract.
Schedule H - Used to list anyone that is also liable on any debts of the debtor, such as a guarantor or co-signer.
Schedule I - Used to list the current or projected income of the debtor as of the date of the filing of the petition.
Schedule J - Used to list the current or projected expenses of the debtor as of the date of the filing of the petition. Schedule I and J are the basis for the "forward looking" means test.
Declaration Concerning Debtor's Schedules - Signed declaration by the debtor that the above schedules are true and correct, under the penalty of perjury.
Statement of Financial Affairs - Miscellaneous questions regarding the debtor's income, assets, history, and payments.
Statement of Intention - States whether the debtor intends to keep or surrender property that has secured debt.
Compensation Disclosure - Shows the amount paid to an attorney for bankruptcy services.
Notice to Debtors - Provides an explanation of the four chapters of bankruptcy available to individuals, credit counseling requirements, a recommendation to seek the advice of an attorney, and the penalties of perjury.
Verification of Addresses - A statement that the included creditor addresses are correct to the best of the debtor's knowledge.
Statement of Social-Security Number - Confirms the identity of the debtor. This form is kept out of the public record to avoid identity theft.
Means Test - Used to show the average income and expenses of the debtor over the six months prior to the filing of the petition. This form is the basis for the "backward looking" means test.
As the above implies, only an experienced attorney should be used to prepare the petition, after close consultation with the debtor. Mistakes or omission on the petition could result in the loss of property or even a conviction of perjury.
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