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A Step-by-Step Guide in Filing for Bankruptcy

Published on April 19th, 2021

Filing for Bankruptcy

Sometimes life doesn’t go as anticipated, and our finances suffer. When money situations get particularly bad, declaring bankruptcy may become necessary. Doing so protects you legally, as well as prevents wages from being garnished. Here’s what needs to be done to file properly.

Gather Documents

Besides your credit report, you need to collect many other forms of documentation, including:

  • Two years of tax returns
  • Copies of outstanding bills
  • Bank statements
  • Vehicle registration
  • Real estate appraisals
  • Proof of income over the past six months

Be sure to include any other paperwork relating to your debts and assets, including collection letters.

Receive Counseling

Those who file for bankruptcy are required to take a course in handling credit. One can be completed within a couple of hours and costs between $10 and $50. Make certain that the class you take has been approved by the Department of Justice. After you have passed, you’ll be given a certificate of completion. Keep it on file, as the law requires that you do so.

Complete Forms

There is hefty paperwork involved in filing for bankruptcy. Expect to fill out at least 23 separate reports, for a grand total of approximately 70 pages. A bankruptcy lawyer can help you with this process. Alternatively, use an online bankruptcy service or get in touch with a legal aid provider to make sure you’re completing the forms correctly.

Fees for bankruptcy filings can be hundreds of dollars. If you are unable to make this payment in one chunk, you may ask to pay in installments. When even that remains too much, you can apply for a waiver.

After your forms have been electronically completed, they must be printed. Make them single-sided or the court will not accept them. Also, you need to sign the physical copies. Some courts mandate that you bring multiple printouts; get in touch with your local bankruptcy court to find out how many are needed.

Petition the Court

When you arrive at the courthouse, head to the clerk’s office. There, you’ll hand over your forms and filing fee. A clerk will scan your information and upload it into the court’s electronic database. Once this is complete, you’ll be given your case number and details on how to contact your trustee. 

Declaring bankruptcy gives you a fresh start. While the process is complex, hiring a bankruptcy lawyer can take away much of the confusion. Contact one if filing for protection suits your financial situation.


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