One of the most frequent questions we get from our bankruptcy clients is “What do I need to get together for my bankruptcy filing”? There are numerous documents and items we need to make sure your bankruptcy goes through as smoothly as possible. We make sure that all our new clients receive a packet with instructions, information, and a very detailed list of items to start gathering. Although every Chapter 7 Trustee asks for different things, there are 3 items that every Trustee asks for, and if they are not provided, your case can be dismissed.

Some Chapter 7 Trustees ask for up to 20 things, some ask for only 5, but they all ask for:

PAYSTUBS – You must produce all paystubs and evidence of income going back 6 months prior to filing. That includes paystubs of spouses unless you are separated. If you are self-employed, you must provide a detailed profit and loss statement. This is required in order to substantiate the income and payroll deductions you listed in your bankruptcy paperwork.

FEDERAL TAX RETURNS – You must produce full tax returns for 3 years prior to filing. This includes all schedules. Tax returns are used to confirm income, claimed dependents, evidence of a business, evidence of real property (due to mortgage interest deductions), and the amount and type of refund you may be receiving.

BANK STATEMENTS – You must produce bank statements for 3 to 12 months prior to filing. This includes any and all open or closed accounts in which you were named on the account. It is best to go back 12 months, and get them as soon as possible since you may not have access to older statements. Trustees like to review bank statements to confirm cash on hand, and to determine if there have been any unusual deposits or withdraws.

You should gather these items and have them ready for your lawyer to review before you file your bankruptcy paperwork. It is important that your bankruptcy petition and schedules match with the information on these 3 items, since you are signing under penalty of perjury that all the information filed is true and correct.

If you are thinking of filing bankruptcy, start saving these items now to speed up the process and reduce additional stress when you do decide to file.