A person must provide not only their bankruptcy attorney, but also their bankruptcy trustee, with a substantial amount of documentation when filing bankruptcy. The bankruptcy trustee is the person appointed by the Federal government to review a filer’s petition to ensure that all assets have been disclosed and align with any supportive documentation provided to the bankruptcy trustee by the individual filing bankruptcy. The bankruptcy trustee is not there to judge an individual filing bankruptcy, they are merely doing their job and that is to work on behalf of the Federal government and in the best interest of the creditors whose debts will be discharged in a bankruptcy. Surprisingly to my clients, the bankruptcy trustee is not concerned with a filer’s personal strife and how they came to the point of utilizing bankruptcy. They are there to look at the facts of your case and work within the U.S. Bankruptcy Code laws to ensure you’ve satisfied your obligation as a debtor, i.e. you have disclosed all your assets and debts and all other required information in your bankruptcy petition.
Following are the list of documents that must be provided to the bankruptcy attorney so the attorney can review all information to accurately draft a filer’s bankruptcy petition and to ensure no problems will arise in the bankruptcy proceeding. As you can see, this is an exhaustive list and that is due to the fact that ALL assets must be disclosed when a person files bankruptcy. It doesn’t matter if you own a $5.00 desk, it is a personal property item that you own and therefore must be disclosed. This doesn’t mean the bankruptcy trustee will take the desk because there are bankruptcy laws that protect a substantial portion if not all of a filer’s assets. Additional documents may need to be provided once the attorney has reviewed the following:
- State and Federal Income Tax Returns for 2010, 2011, 2012. *Also, you may be required to submit to your Bankruptcy Trustee a copy of your 2013 State and Federal income tax returns when filed in 2014.
- Last 7 months of paycheck stubs prior to your petition file date AND proof of income from all other sources other than employment, i.e. Child Support, Social Security, Disability, Unemployment Benefits etc.
- Last 6 months statements for ALL open bank, Prepaid Debit, investment, brokerage accounts etc.
- Copy of Title and Registration MVD Record from: www.servicearizona.com (if you have a car payment you must obtain this record) OR copy of the Title for all vehicles owned free and clear. This includes ALL vehicles including boats, trailers, ATVs, campers, regardless if they run or not.
- Payoff statement (amount left to pay for a vehicle) from your car lender or all vehicles with a lien.
- Copy of Private Party Value (not Trade-In Value) for ALL vehicles title in your name(s) from www.KBB.com or another similar service.
- Proof of Insurance for all motor vehicles that are driven. Copy of insurance card or insurance Declaration Page is fine.
- If you own real property or are purchasing real property or own/purchasing a timeshare:
- Declaration page to homeowner’s insurance policy.
- Property tax assessor information.
- Payoff statement for real property or timeshare (statement with how much is left to pay.)
- Recorded mortgage and deed for all real property (real estate). These documents can be obtained at the county recorder’s office, or on the county recorder’s website for where the property is located. For example, if you own property in Maricopa County, you can find and print this information on the Maricopa County Recorder’s website at: www.maricopa.gov.
- Copies of any lawsuits, foreclosures, judgments, liens or garnishments filed within the past two (2) years.
- Provide copy of one or more credit reports and copies of any creditor statements, letters, notices etc.
- Declaration page for all life insurance, disability, pensions with a cash surrender value. Be sure to include any ‘riders’ which cover any specific items of personal property with insured values.
- Most recent statement for any retirement, pension or investment or brokerage accounts e.g. IRAs, 401Ks, 529(b), 457s, etc.
- Separation agreements, divorce decrees, child support orders or any other support obligations filed within the past two years.
- Copies of stock certificates, bonds, credit union and passbook savings account and statement evidencing investments or savings.
- Documents verifying interest in any future property.
- Copy of one of the following: Driver’s License or Passport or State Issued Photo ID.
- Copy of your Social Security card.
- Any documents relating to “disabled veteran” status.
As one can see, the exhaustive list of documents above (additional information may need to be provided on certain matters as well) covers all financial background of a filer’s financial history. It is therefore very important that an individual considering filing bankruptcy enlist an attorney who is knowledgeable and thorough when working with their client. Bankruptcy is not an overnight process and can be very dangerous if approached in a hasty fashion. I look forward to working diligently on behalf of my clients to make sure any matters that may be an issue are fully and properly addressed prior to filing, which results in a smooth and stress free bankruptcy. If you’re considering bankruptcy as a possible option to address your financial hardships, contact an attorney at the Dana Law Firm, so we can discuss your option and determine the best approach for your circumstances moving forward.
Article By: Whitney G. Coats, J.D.
Whitney G. Coats, J.D., Of Counsel, is a bankruptcy attorney who works with the Dana Law Firm in its Consumer Bankruptcy Department.