- Is Bankruptcy right for you?
The first step in this process is to make an informed decision on whether Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is the best option for you. Many attorneys will offer free consultations to evaluate your situation and make an assessment of all of the options available to you.
There is also plenty of good information on the web that might help you make an informed decision.
-Get your Credit Reports
If you have made an informed decision to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case the first step is to get all three of your credit reports from the 3 major credit reporting agencies. You get these credit reports by Googling "annual credit report" and following the link.
Now that you have all 3 reports be sure to print them out because you will be using the information on them to prepare your bankruptcy petition.
-Look for Judgements against you
The next step is to go to your local court system website and search your name to see if there are any unpaid judgements against you. This is important because you will be listing these judgements on your bankruptcy paperwork and in effect wiping them out. Be sure to check all the different courts in your county as well as any other places you have lived in the past 20 years for judgements. Print out any judgements against you including the amounts, the case number, the plaintiffs name and address, and the plaintiff's attorney's name and address.
-Filling Out The Bankruptcy Petition and Paperwork
Now that you have gathered all of you past debts and information, you are ready to start filling out all the necessary forms. You have a couple of different options when it comes to the forms.
The first option is to use the forms on your local US Bankruptcy Court website. The better option is to use an online bankruptcy software program. Don't worry the software is very cheap to use ($39). It is also very easy to use. The forms are all current and comply with the bankruptcy laws. http://www.verantbk.com is a good one to use.
Now you will just be typing in all of the personal information and financial information that you gathered. The software will guide you through the process and populate all of the information in the proper bankruptcy forms. Once you complete that process, you will print out all of the completed forms. Make sure your printer has plenty of ink because the total package will be about 60 pages.
-A Word about Income Taxes
If you have back income taxes that you owe consider this rule. The general rule is that you can list your taxes on your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy if the taxes owed are from a previous tax year and you have filed your tax return more than 2 years and a day prior to the filing of your bankruptcy case. That's just the general rule. Back taxes and bankruptcy raises many issues and you should consult the "nolo" website or an attorney if you are unsure how to proceed.
-The Local Rules
Make sure to go to your local US Bankruptcy Court website and look at the "local rules" section. It will tell you if any local forms are required with your filings, and will have templates. It will also tell any special requirements they might have as to the papers themselves(ex. the Arizona district requires all of your form be double hole punched).