The Petition requesting relief and the Schedules of assets, debts, income, and expenses are the key documents filed in your bankruptcy case.
A week ago we explained the difference between a voluntary bankruptcy case and involuntary one. Involuntary ones are so rare, especially in non-business settings, that there’s not much need to discuss them any further.
We also got into individual and joint bankruptcies. Voluntary individual and voluntary joint cases are both “commenced by the filing with the bankruptcy of a petition.” (See Sections 301(a) and 302(a) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.)
The petition is a document that currently, in its official version, is about 8 pages long. But at its heart are three simple, short words: “I request relief.”
At the heart of getting bankruptcy help is simply asking for that help.
You’ll hear reference to your “schedules.” They are forms listing your basic financial information: your property and your debts, your income and expenses.
- Schedule A: Personal Property
- Schedule B: Real Property
- Schedule C: Property Exemptions
- Schedule D: Secured Debts
- Schedule E: Unsecured Debts
- Schedule F: Priority Debts
- Schedule G: Contracts and Leases
- Schedule H: Co-Debtors
- Schedule I: Income
- Schedule J: Expenses
There are some other documents that your bankruptcy lawyer puts together with your help.
- Statement of Financial Affairs
- Statement of Intentions (about secured debts and leases)
- Means Test Calculation (Chapter 7)
- Statement of Current Monthly Income & Calculation of Commitment Period (Chapter 13)
- Calculation of Disposable Income (Chapter 13)
There are more but the petition and schedules are the core documents (along with the Chapter 13 plan for cases filed under that chapter).
The United States bankruptcy courts (and all federal courts) moved to a largely paperless electronic document filing system from the late 1990s through 2001. In limited circumstances documents can be filed by physically taking them to the bankruptcy court clerk’s office. But most documents MUST be filed electronically.
Overall this makes filing documents at the court tremendously more efficient. Electronic filing is especially helpful when you need to stop a creditor’s action by filing a bankruptcy case. You or your lawyer no longer needs to physically transport the petition and other documents to the nearest bankruptcy court. Instead, the lawyer or his assistant can have the case filed in just a few minutes. That’s especially helpful in situations in which the bankruptcy court is far away.