Bankruptcy Petition: Filing Process, Required Forms

This comprehensive guide to bankruptcy filing covers the types of bankruptcy, detailed steps in the filing process, required forms, and essential resources to help individuals and businesses navigate the legal and financial implications effectively.

Introduction

Filing for bankruptcy is a legal process that provides relief to individuals and businesses overwhelmed by debt. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the bankruptcy petition filing process and the required forms. It is intended to help individuals understand the steps involved, the necessary documentation, and the legal implications of filing for bankruptcy.

Types of Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as "liquidation bankruptcy," involves the sale of a debtor's non-exempt assets to pay off creditors. It is designed for individuals and businesses with limited income who cannot repay their debts.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also known as "reorganization bankruptcy," allows individuals with a regular income to develop a plan to repay all or part of their debts over three to five years. This type of bankruptcy is suitable for those who want to keep their assets and have a steady income.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is primarily used by businesses to reorganize their debts and continue operating. It allows companies to restructure their obligations while maintaining control of their operations.

Chapter 12 Bankruptcy

Chapter 12 bankruptcy is designed for family farmers and fishermen. It provides a framework for these individuals to reorganize their debts and continue their operations.

Filing Process

Step 1: Credit Counseling

Before filing for bankruptcy, individuals must complete a credit counseling course from an approved agency. This course helps debtors understand their financial situation and explore alternatives to bankruptcy. The certificate of completion must be filed with the bankruptcy petition.

Step 2: Gather Required Documents

Debtors must gather various documents to support their bankruptcy petition. These documents include:

  • Recent tax returns
  • Pay stubs or proof of income
  • Bank statements
  • Property deeds and titles
  • Loan documents
  • List of assets and liabilities

Step 3: Complete Bankruptcy Forms

Debtors must complete several forms to file for bankruptcy. These forms provide detailed information about their financial situation. The primary forms include:

  • Voluntary Petition (Form B101): This form initiates the bankruptcy case.
  • Schedules of Assets and Liabilities (Forms B106A/B, B106C, B106D, B106E/F, B106G, B106H): These forms list the debtor's assets, liabilities, and executory contracts.
  • Statement of Financial Affairs (Form B107): This form provides a summary of the debtor's financial history.
  • Means Test Calculation (Form B122A-1 and B122A-2): This form determines eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Step 4: File the Petition

The completed forms and supporting documents must be filed with the bankruptcy court. Debtors must also pay a filing fee, which varies depending on the type of bankruptcy. Fee waivers or installment plans may be available for those who cannot afford the fee.

Step 5: Automatic Stay

Upon filing the bankruptcy petition, an automatic stay goes into effect. This stay halts most collection actions against the debtor, including lawsuits, wage garnishments, and phone calls from creditors.

Step 6: Meeting of Creditors

Approximately 20 to 40 days after filing, the debtor must attend a meeting of creditors, also known as a 341 meeting. During this meeting, the bankruptcy trustee and creditors can ask the debtor questions about their financial situation and the information provided in the bankruptcy forms.

Step 7: Confirmation Hearing (Chapter 13)

For Chapter 13 cases, a confirmation hearing is held to approve the debtor's repayment plan. The court will review the plan to ensure it meets legal requirements and is feasible for the debtor.

Step 8: Discharge

If the court approves the bankruptcy petition, the debtor will receive a discharge of their debts. A discharge releases the debtor from personal liability for most debts and prevents creditors from taking any further collection actions.

Required Forms

Voluntary Petition (Form B101)

The Voluntary Petition is the primary form used to initiate a bankruptcy case. It includes basic information about the debtor, such as their name, address, and type of bankruptcy being filed.

Schedules of Assets and Liabilities

  • Schedule A/B (Form B106A/B): Lists real and personal property owned by the debtor.
  • Schedule C (Form B106C): Lists property claimed as exempt.
  • Schedule D (Form B106D): Lists secured creditors.
  • Schedule E/F (Form B106E/F): Lists unsecured creditors.
  • Schedule G (Form B106G): Lists executory contracts and unexpired leases.
  • Schedule H (Form B106H): Lists co-debtors.

Statement of Financial Affairs (Form B107)

The Statement of Financial Affairs provides a detailed summary of the debtor's financial history, including income, expenses, and recent financial transactions.

Means Test Calculation (Forms B122A-1 and B122A-2)

The Means Test Calculation determines whether a debtor qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It compares the debtor's income to the median income for their state and calculates disposable income.

Other Required Forms

  • Summary of Assets and Liabilities (Form B106Sum): Provides a summary of the information in the schedules.
  • Declaration Concerning Debtor's Schedules (Form B106Dec): Certifies the accuracy of the information in the schedules.
  • Statement of Intention (Form B108): Indicates the debtor's intentions regarding secured property.
  • Chapter 13 Plan (Form B113): Outlines the debtor's proposed repayment plan for Chapter 13 cases.

Official Resources

For more detailed information and access to the required forms, refer to the following official resources:

Conclusion

Filing for bankruptcy is a complex process that requires careful preparation and attention to detail. By understanding the steps involved and the required forms, individuals can navigate the bankruptcy process more effectively. It is always advisable to seek legal counsel to ensure compliance with all legal requirements and to protect one's rights throughout the bankruptcy proceedings.

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Von Wooding

Von Wooding

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