Preparing for Bankruptcy: A Checklist

Declaring bankruptcy is a significant financial decision requiring careful preparation and organization.

Understanding what steps to take before filing can streamline the process, reduce stress, and lead to a more favorable outcome.

This article provides a comprehensive checklist for those preparing for bankruptcy, emphasizing the importance of documentation, credit counseling requirements, and the role of a bankruptcy attorney in simplifying the process.


Step 1: Gather Financial Documentation

The foundation of a bankruptcy case is a detailed understanding of your financial situation. Collecting thorough documentation is crucial.

  1. Income Documentation: Gather your pay stubs, tax returns, and any other income documentation, including rental income, dividends, or benefits, for the past two years.
  2. Asset Records: Compile records of all your assets. This includes bank statements, retirement account statements, real estate deeds, car titles, and any other assets you own.
  3. Debt Information: List all debts, including credit card statements, medical bills, loans, and any other obligations. Include debts that may not be dischargeable, such as student loans or child support.
  4. Monthly Expenses: Prepare a detailed list of your monthly expenses. This should include rent or mortgage payments, utilities, food, transportation costs, insurance, and any other regular expenses.
  5. Property Valuations: If possible, obtain current valuations of significant properties like your home or car. These can be critical in the bankruptcy process.


Step 2: Complete Credit Counseling

Before you can file for bankruptcy, you must complete a credit counseling course from an approved agency.

  1. Choosing a Counseling Agency: Ensure the agency is approved for bankruptcy counseling. The U.S. Trustee Program maintains a list of approved agencies.
  2. Understand the Requirements: The counseling session, typically about 60 to 90 minutes, can be done online, over the phone, or in person. It must be completed within 180 days before filing for bankruptcy.
  3. Course Completion Certificate: After completing the course, you will receive a certificate of completion. This must be filed along with your bankruptcy petition.


Step 3: Consult with a Bankruptcy Attorney

Engaging an experienced bankruptcy attorney early in the process can provide invaluable guidance and simplify the filing process.

  1. Legal Advice: An attorney can advise on which type of bankruptcy to file – Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 – based on your financial situation.
  2. Documentation Review: They can review your financial documentation to ensure accuracy and completeness.
  3. Representation: An attorney will represent you in dealings with creditors and in court, providing peace of mind and professional advocacy.
  4. Strategic Planning: They can help in developing a strategy for your bankruptcy filing, including asset protection and debt discharge planning.


Step 4: Determine Eligibility and Type of Bankruptcy

Understanding which type of bankruptcy you qualify for is crucial in planning your filing.

  1. Means Test for Chapter 7: If you are considering Chapter 7, you must pass a means test, which compares your income to the median income in your state.
  2. Evaluating Chapter 13: If you have a regular income, Chapter 13 might be a better fit. Assess your income and expenses to determine if you can adhere to a repayment plan.


Step 5: Cease Certain Financial Actions

Certain financial actions can complicate the bankruptcy process and should be avoided.

  1. Avoid Running Up New Debt: Do not incur new debt right before filing, as the court may see it as fraudulent.
  2. Stop Using Credit Cards: Once you decide to file for bankruptcy, stop using your credit cards.
  3. Don’t Transfer Assets: Avoid transferring assets out of your name in an attempt to protect them from bankruptcy proceedings.


Couple preparing for bankruptcy filing

Step 6: Organize and File Your Petition

Preparing and filing your bankruptcy petition is a critical step in the process.

  1. Complete Required Forms: There are a number of forms to complete for a bankruptcy filing. This includes schedules of assets and liabilities, a statement of financial affairs, and more.
  2. Filing Your Petition: Once you complete your forms, file them with the bankruptcy court in your jurisdiction.


Step 7: Prepare for the Meeting of Creditors

After filing, you will attend a meeting of creditors, also known as the 341 meeting.

  1. Understand the Purpose: This meeting allows the trustee and creditors to ask you questions under oath about your financial situation and the information in your bankruptcy petition.
  2. Document Preparation: Bring identification and your Social Security card, along with any other documents requested by the trustee, such as bank statements or tax returns.


Step 8: Complete a Debtor Education Course

After filing for bankruptcy, you must complete a debtor education course.

  1. Course Requirements: Similar to credit counseling, this course helps you manage your finances after bankruptcy. You must complete the course before you can receive a discharge.
  2. Obtain a Certificate: Upon completion, you will receive a certificate that you must file with the court.


Step 9: Cooperate and Communicate Throughout the Process

Maintain open lines of communication with your attorney and the bankruptcy trustee throughout the process.

  1. Respond to Inquiries: Be responsive to any requests for additional information or documentation from the trustee or court.
  2. Attend Required Hearings: In addition to the meeting of creditors, there may be other hearings you need to attend. Your attorney can guide you through these.


Step 10: Plan for Life After Bankruptcy

Start planning for your financial future post-bankruptcy early in the process.

  1. Budgeting and Financial Management: Develop a budget and a plan for managing your finances after bankruptcy.
  2. Credit Rebuilding Strategies: Discuss with your attorney strategies for rebuilding your credit post-bankruptcy.



Preparing for bankruptcy involves careful planning and organization. By gathering necessary documentation, completing required courses, consulting with a bankruptcy attorney, and understanding the different types of bankruptcy, you can ensure a smoother process.

The steps you take in preparing for bankruptcy can significantly affect its outcome and your financial future.

With thorough preparation and the guidance of a skilled attorney, you can navigate the bankruptcy process confidently and lay the foundation for a stronger financial future.


Learn More

At Blue Bee Bankruptcy, our lawyers are highly experienced in bankruptcy options. More importantly, we understand that each case we receive is unique and each client has different needs and goals. We will discuss these signs with you and decide the best route to take.

We strive to help our clients rebuild their lives and take steps toward a better financial future through filing. 


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If you’re dealing with the potential of bankruptcy, give us a call. Our team will work to help you by reviewing all of the options our firm has available. We will ensure you’ll get the best possible outcome for your situation.

Get in touch today so we can start working on either halting bankruptcies or preventing them from taking place altogether!

Contact Us Today For Help! You can schedule your free consultation online or call us at (801) 285-0980.


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