Credit and Bankruptcy Law
What must a consumer do before filing bankruptcy?
A consumer contemplating filing bankruptcy must undergo credit counseling within 180 days before filing for bankruptcy. This requirement was added as a result of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. The debtor must present the bankruptcy court with a certificate of completion from such counseling. The law requires that bankruptcy courts maintain a list of approved credit counselors in the area and the courts do review counselors to determine if they are appropriate places for consumers to receive such services.
When filing a bankruptcy petition, the consumer must include much information. These filings must include the following: a list of creditors; a listing of assets and liabilities, current income and payment obligations, statement of financial affairs, copies of all payment advances, statement of monthly net income, and a statement disclosing any expected future income in the coming year. These various forms can be obtained from the Bankruptcy Courts website at http://www.uscourts.gov/bkforms/index.html.
The consumer may also have to provide tax returns and photo identification. These various forms are referred to as “schedules,” and consumers must take great pains to insure that the information is both accurate and complete. For example, completed schedules include Form 6 Schedules—Statistical Summary of Certain Liabilities and Related Data (28 U.S.C. § 159):
Schedule A: Real Property
Schedule B: Personal Property
Schedule C: Property Claimed as Exempt
Schedule D: Creditors Holding Secured Claims
Schedule E: Creditors Holding Unsecured Priority Claims
Schedule F: Creditors Holding Unsecured Nonpriority Claims
Schedule G: Executory Contracts and Unexpired Leases
Schedule H: Codebtors
Schedule I: Current Income of Individual Debtor(s)
Schedule J: Current Expenditures of Individual Debtors(s)
After a consumer files a bankruptcy petition, the court will notify the different creditors of the petition. The court will appoint a bankruptcy trustee, who will serve as the moderator and controller of the debtor’s estate and assets.