If you are just starting to consider filing a bankruptcy case, you’re probably wondering where to start. You’re asking yourself “What information and documents will I need to provide to my lawyer or to the court?” This blog post will lay out the basics you need to get started.
Driver’s License and Social Security Card
First, you’ll need your Driver’s License and Social Security Card. The Court will require you to present a government issued photo ID. If your License has been suspended or you don’t have one, then you’ll need to get a Non-Driver ID card. Your local State Trooper’s License Office can issue one and they’ll tell you what you need to get one. Also, if you’ve lost your Social Security Card, then you’ll need to go apply for a new one. You can apply at the Social Security office and it usually takes a few weeks to get your new card.
File Your Tax Returns
Second, you’ll need to be sure you’ve filed your Federal Income Tax Returns for the past 4 years. If you are filing a Chapter 13 case, it is a requirement that your last 4 years of Tax Returns have been filed. The Court will want to see copies of at least the 2 (two) previous years of returns. If you don’t have copies of those yourself, then you’ll need to obtain copies from whoever prepared your taxes for those years. If all else fails, you can get copies of your returns or get tax transcripts for those years from your local IRS office. If you were not required to file a tax return because your only income is Social Security or you did not earn enough income to file, that isn’t a problem. Your attorney can help you submit to the Court an affidavit that you weren’t required to file.
Copies of Financial Account Statements
Third, you’ll need copies of a recent account statement from any financial account you have. This includes any checking or savings accounts at a bank or credit union. It also includes statements for other kinds of financial accounts, such as Certificates of Deposit (CDs) or Money Market accounts. Additionally, the court will want to see recent account statements from any stocks, bonds, mutual funds, 401ks, or other long-term investments that you have. You should be able to obtain statements either from your bank or from your investment broker.
Copies of Paystubs
Lastly, you’ll need to provide copies of your last 6 months of paystubs. When filing a bankruptcy case, the court looks at you last 6 months of income in determining whether you qualify to file under the Means Test. Your attorney will also need your paystubs to calculate your monthly income for your budget. If you don’t have copies of your paystubs, you should be able to get copies printed from the payroll department at your job.
If you’re still considering whether bankruptcy is the right option for you, then don’t worry about gathering these documents yet. Instead, call us to set up an appointment for a free initial consultation with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys. We have convenient locations in Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi. At Bond & Botes we’ll walk you through gathering what you need for a successful bankruptcy case.
Nick Gajewski is an Associate Attorney at the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Florence and Haleyville, Alabama. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alabama, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Alabama School of Law. Nick joined the team of Bond & Botes bankruptcy lawyers back in 2014 and has been helping clients navigate financial issues since. Read his full bio here.