Are you worried and feel alone due to your vast debts? Well, you are not alone. Thousands of people are learning that filing bankruptcy could be the solution since it is tailored to help good people find relief. However, filing any bankruptcy chapter could be complicated. You should know which option to file, eligibility requirements, necessary documents, how to file and amend your paperwork, and timeframe. Consulting with the seasoned legal team at the Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney could save you headaches, mistakes, and time, giving you a fresh start.
Collecting the Necessary Bankruptcy Documents
When filling out the bankruptcy paperwork, you should reveal information about your financial status, including your property transfers, expenses, income, debts, and assets. Moreover, you should submit specific documents to establish the authenticity of the details provided.
While the documents you submit when filing Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 are often similar, there are slight variations. Nonetheless, for specific documentation requirements, ensure you check the procedures given by the bankruptcy trustee and your district. While some bankruptcy trustees need more evidence than others, your case facts determine the specific evidence needed.
Here are the standard documents:
Usually, you should submit copies of the tax transcripts or tax returns for the previous four years and two years in Chapter 13 and Chapter 7, respectively.
Suppose a debtor has unfiled tax returns because they were not supposed to bring (maybe because nontaxable disability benefits are their only income source). In that case, they should provide a letter of explanation.
And if the borrower did not file, the trustee will expect them to do so. And then submit copies before approving or concluding the case.
Proof of Your Income
If you are a worker, you will require copies of the previous two W-2s and pay stubs for six months before filing for bankruptcy. You should also provide evidence of other sources of income like:
- Rental properties
- Social Security funds
Let's assume you want to bring a Fountain Valley bankruptcy case, and you are self-employed. In that case, you should submit profit and loss statements alongside the current business bank statement to validate your loss and profit amounts.
Motor Vehicle Registration, Evidence of Insurance and Value
If you own a motor vehicle, you should provide evidence of the value.
If you have an auto loan, you should submit a current loan statement with information on the amount you owe and the monthly payments required to prepare the paperwork. Depending on your trustee, you might be required to produce proof of insurance and copies of the car registration.
Bank and Retirement Account Statements
You should also provide the trustee with the current bank and retirement account statement for all your accounts.
Evidence for Real Estate Fair Market Value and Mortgage Statements
If you have real estate, you should provide evidence of the asset's fair market value. The debtor can use a broker's price opinion, full appraisal, or online valuation, depending primarily on their district's guidelines or the equity amount.
You will also be required to provide a statement with your loan balance and the payment amounts, proof of insurance, and deed of trust.
When attending a hearing with a bankruptcy trustee, you should bring a photo identification like proof of the social security number and your driver's license.
If you've other factors after the bankruptcy case, like being supposed to pay child support, student loan, or alimony, you should produce evidence of the expenses. For instance, if you are recently divorced, you can present a marital settlement agreement showing your property distribution.
Information You Require to Complete Your Bankruptcy Paperwork
Most of the details you should fill out in the paperwork is on the document. For instance, you will use your income documents to determine monthly income.
Nonetheless, you should collect more details to complete the bankruptcy petition, such as expense, lawsuit information, creditor, and co-debtor. Begin with getting your loan bills or statements; it will help you list all your creditors. While you can also use your credit report, you should outline your creditor's billing address, and the address is occasionally found in the credit report. Therefore, it is only practical to use your credit report to prove that you have highlighted all the debts.
Moreover, it would help if you used the utility bills to get the correct figures for the monthly expenses and utilities like dry cleaning, transportation, and food.
How to Acquire and Bring Your Fountain Valley Bankruptcy Forms
When you file a bankruptcy matter, you should fill out a packet of forms, consisting of the schedules, voluntary petition, and additional forms. The whole package is called the bankruptcy petition.
The federal government issues the form and is called official bankruptcy forms.
You could get copies of the official bankruptcy form on the official U.S Courts website. You could also print out copies of your forms from the website.
Local Requirements and Forms
On top of your official forms, which all courts use, the local court will need you to bring additional forms that it has developed. Additionally, the local court might have unique rules and requirements for filing petitions.
You can get the requirements and forms from your bankruptcy attorney, clerk, or even the court's website.
Filing Your Forms
If you have legal representation, the lawyer will prepare the forms for your signature and review before filing them with the bankruptcy court. And if you're self-representing, you should bring your paperwork to the court in person.
Remember to check with the local court the following:
- The number of copies you need to bring (Typical it is the original and a copy)
- Order of your forms
- Requirements like hole punching and staples
Bringing Your Forms in the Correct Court
Federal courts are all over the United States. The bankruptcy courts are classified into judicial districts, and all states have more than one judicial court.
You could file your forms in either:
- The district where you're domiciled, or
- The district where you've been residing for more than one hundred and eighty days before filing
You could have more options if you have significant property somewhere else apart from where you reside or have a business. It is advisable to speak with an experienced Fountain Valley bankruptcy attorney in both scenarios.
Amending Your Bankruptcy Form
Irrespective of how cautious you are when completing the bankruptcy forms, a mistake could happen. Fortunately, if you made an error or forgot to include something, you can rectify the mistake by amending your forms.
Here are reasons you require to amend your paperwork:
- Omitting details — You should fix the forms if you forgot to take in any information, including an asset or lender. You should correct any omitted information as soon as possible.
- Making mistakes — This is the main reason for amending your forms. It could be a wrong calculation of income or submitting the incorrect address.
- Changing circumstances — Your circumstances can change during bankruptcy. For example, you could get employed after bringing your bankruptcy case.
How to Amend Your Bankruptcy Forms
Here is a general step-by-step guideline on amending your bankruptcy form:
Find the Required Procedures and Forms
Usually, you could visit the local court's website to obtain your forms and procedure on amending the paperwork. You could also acquire the details at the court.
Typically, the forms consist of a blank version of the form you want to amend, a notice form to add more lenders, and an amendment cover sheet form.
Complete Your Forms with the Right Details
Carefully follow the instructions on your forms or in the rules and fill them. If you have previously made a mistake, fill in the correct information on your blank form. And if you omitted something, include it in your new form.
Some districts will require debtors to include and provide only the details being amended. On the other hand, others might need that the debtor fills in the unaltered details as they were on their original forms. Most districts require debtors to indicate "amended" on their new bankruptcy forms and specify whether they corrected, deleted, or added information.
Filing and Serving Your Amended Forms
After completing the required forms, you should bring them to court. Local procedures and rules have details on how to do it. The clerk could also help you and notify you of any missing information.
Although amendments are generally free, you might pay additional fees if you're adding a new creditor.
It would be best if you also served the affected lenders and the trustee with your amended forms.
Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Requirement
Before filing Fountain Valley bankruptcy, you should engage a credit-counseling agency to check whether you could effectively deal with the loan load outside the bankruptcy case without adding financial stress.
You should prove that you have completed the credit counseling course by bringing the certificate of completion together with the bankruptcy paperwork within fifteen days following the bankruptcy filing date.
However, you can avoid the requirement if you prove that:
- You had to bring bankruptcy immediately (maybe to prevent a foreclosure or wage garnishment)
- You could not get counseling within 5 (five) after requesting it
If you could establish that you did not get the credit counseling due to these reasons, you should prove that to the bankruptcy court and complete the course within thirty days following the filing. You could request the judge to extend the deadline by fifteen days.
Moreover, you can avoid this requirement if, following hearing and notice, the court determines that you could not participate due to:
- Physical disabilities that stopped you from attending counseling (the exception will not apply if your course is available over the phone or online)
- Mental incapacity that prevents you from understanding and benefiting from your counseling
- Active duty in the army
Why You Should Enroll in a Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Program
Counseling helps you know whether a repayment plan could help you get back on your feet or whether you should file a bankruptcy case. Counseling is needed even though:
- You are facing unfair debts (For instance, those due to identity theft)
- Your repayment plan is not viable because your income amount is low and your debts are too huge.
Usually, your counseling agency drafts a budget founded on your expenses and income before reviewing the options for clearing your debt.
Even when your repayment plan is viable, you don't have to use it. Nevertheless, should your agency prepare a repayment plan, you should bring it together with your bankruptcy paperwork.
It would help if you also enrolled in another course (debtor education) after bringing bankruptcy. The program lasts for two hours and offers the debtor financial information like:
- Setting and realizing financial goals
- Financial management
- Creating your budget
- Cutting unnecessary expenses
- Consumer protection
- Handling an unexpected financial crisis
- Using your credit effectively and wisely
You can use the provider approved by your local bankruptcy court. Alternatively, you can get one from the list of court-approved providers available on the United States Trustee's website.
The counseling agency charges a fee for the service. If you can't afford this fee, the agency should offer the program free. Many agencies offer a fee reduction or waiver to applicants whose income is less than one and fifty percent of the household size's Federal Poverty Level.
The program is available in person, over the phone, or online in different languages, including English, French, and Chinese.
While every lender should complete this course before obtaining a debt discharge, there exist exceptions such as:
- There are no court-approved providers in your area.
- The course is not available in a language you understand
- You are mentally incapacitated or have a physical disability that prevents you from taking the course.
- You are on active military duty.
You should file a certificate of completion with the bankruptcy court to establish you completed the course. Make sure the certificate is brought within sixty days of the date set for the meeting of creditors. Otherwise, the bankruptcy judge will dismiss your Fountain Valley bankruptcy case.
Find Legal Representation Near Me
Bankruptcy offers you an opportunity to take charge of your life and finance, rebuild your credit score, and begin a new chapter. However, deciding to file Fountain Valley bankruptcy could be daunting. You do not have to go through this alone. The skilled lawyers at the Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney could guide you through the entire process. We understand that life could be overwhelming when you're struggling to clear your debts. That's why we commit our experience and resources to assist our well-esteemed clients. Contact us today at 424-285-5525 to learn how we can help you.