Blog post default


Harris-Courage & Grady, PLLC July 25, 2015

Under the new bankruptcy law, people filing bankruptcy in Syracuse must provide a lot of documentation to support their bankruptcy petition. In addition, as attorneys, we have a duty under the new bankruptcy law to make sure the things you tell us are correct. Finally, by reviewing documents prior to filing bankruptcy, we can catch potential problems which could otherwise have been avoided. You don’t need to have all of your documents ready to begin the bankruptcy process, but you do need to be aware of what we will ask for as we proceed.

We will need the following documents:

  • Copy of a driver’s license, and copy of Social Security card or W-2 tax form. These are to prove that you are you. You will need to bring these documents to the hearing you have after you file bankruptcy.

  • The last 2 years of tax returns, including the IRS and New York State tax returns. This is to verify your historical income, see how much you receive in tax refunds, to verify your household size and to determine if you are disclosing assets and/or business interests. Also, you can be denied a discharge in bankruptcy if you have not filed all of your tax returns. The IRS is very aggressive in making sure you have filed your taxes if you file bankruptcy.

  • 7 months’ worth of pay stubs and other income. We must file the last two months’ worth of pay stubs with your bankruptcy or your case will be dismissed. Pay stubs will be needed on the day you file your case. We use all the pay stubs to determine if you can qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

  • All of your bills. We want to make sure all of your creditors and collection agencies are listed in your bankruptcy case in order to discharge these debts. We also want to ensure that the credit card companies will not likely sue you for fraudulent use of your cards. Bills showing the amount to pay off on any secured debt such as your home and vehicles are necessary. Finally, we will confirm that you don’t have too much equity that cannot be protected in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

  • Titles to your vehicles and mobile home, if any. We need to check to see who owns the vehicles and verify that a secured creditor is properly listed. Vehicle exemptions are limited so we want to make sure we can protect your cars.

  • Vehicle valuations. Our firm will use the Kelly Blue Book or NADA to determine the value of your vehicles. To ensure accuracy, please note your mileage and specific features of your car/truck

  • Recorded deed and mortgage(s). This is something that you might not have in your possession. You might have unrecorded copies but not recorded copies. To get recorded copies of your deed and mortgage(s), you will need to go to the county clerk’s office. They do charge per page to make copies. We can hire a title company to get these documents for you but it is much less expensive to do it yourself.

  • Real property tax bill or other valuation of your home and real property. The trustee will be researching how much your home is worth and it is important to provide some proof of its value. We can only protect so much equity in your home so we must know this number before we file your case.

  • List of how you spent your tax refund. This is something the trustee wants to see because he/she wants to make sure you are not using your tax refund to pay back relatives or spending it on gambling or luxury items. You may need to provide receipts or bank statements to validate your spending list.

  • Divorce papers. These are necessary to ensure that you have not agreed to pay back co-signed debt to your ex-spouse because if you have, this debt to the ex will be considered as support and will be non-dischargeable in bankruptcy as it relates to your ex. In other words, you may not be able to discharge co-signed debt you agreed to pay in your divorce. We would like you to know that before you file bankruptcy.

  • Bank statements. The trustee may want to see your bank statements especially on the day you filed your case because the trustee might be able to claim an interest in those funds. The trustee will also review your bank statements for large transfers of cash so make sure you let us know if there has been any large transfer of cash prior to your bankruptcy filing because we need to make sure you can explain the situation.

  • Copies of retirement documents. The trustee wants to determine if the funds are in an account which can be protected in bankruptcy. It is not enough that you intend to use the funds for retirement.

  • Proof of insurance coverage on vehicles and home. The creditors are entitled to this information and if you fail to provide it, they can repossess your vehicle or foreclose on your home. Also, during your bankruptcy, the trustee has certain rights to your assets and wants to protect his/her interests.

Your circumstances may require additional documents which we will ask for at your first appointment.

We want to make sure your bankruptcy goes as expected and accurate documentation prevents surprises.

However, you do not need to have all of your documents ready to start the process.

Give us a call and get on the path to a fresh start.