Section 521 of the United States Bankruptcy Code contains a laundry list of duties that the debtor is expected to perform when filing bankruptcy. Of course, many of these duties are performed with the assistance of your bankruptcy attorney. This list includes filing documents with the bankruptcy court, delivering records to the trustee or creditors, and various other duties. The list contained in 521 is not exhaustive. In many cases the debtor is also under an obligation to provide information mandated by local court rules and other sections of the Bankruptcy Code.
Along with the bankruptcy petition, Section 521 directs the debtor to file certain documents, including:
A list of creditors. The debtor must provide the name, address, amount owed, the date the debt was incurred, whether the debt is owed jointly with anyone else, and whether the debt is contingent or disputed.
A schedule of assets and liabilities. The schedule of assets and liabilities is a “snapshot in time.” What property and debts do you owe on the date the bankruptcy case is filed?
A schedule of current income and expenditures. You must list all of your income sources, including part-time income; irregular income like investment dividends; pension and retirement income; and income received for the care of others, including children.
A statement of the debtor’s financial affairs. This is a lengthy series of questions about your recent financial history. You can view the most recent Statement of Financial Affairs form (Form 7), on the U.S. Courts website. The Statement of Financial Affairs asks about payments to creditors, transfers of property, and recent gifts to others. The Chapter 7 trustee may be entitled to take back property that you transferred to others prior to filing for bankruptcy and sell it for the benefit of your unsecured creditors.
A certificate from an attorney indicating that the debtor received a notice required by section 11 USC 342 (b). This notice describes your bankruptcy options, and a warning concerning making false statements or providing false information during the bankruptcy process.
Payment advices or other proof of payment received within 60 days before the date of the filing of the petition. This includes all income sources.
An itemized statement of the debtor’s monthly net income. Local rules often ask for additional financial information when the debtor owns a small business.
A statement disclosing reasonably anticipated increases in income or expenditures over the 12-month period following the date of the filing of the petition. Notify the court in advance if you expect changes to your income within the next year.
A statement regarding retaining or surrendering property that serves as collateral for debt and, if applicable, specifying whether that property is exempt, will be redeemed, or the debt will be reaffirmed. In a Chapter 7 case, the debtor files a Statement of Intention to let creditors and the trustee know whether secured items will be surrendered, reaffirmed, redeemed, or otherwise kept during and after the bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 case, the debtor files a repayment plan indicating how secured property will be managed during the bankruptcy.
A credit counseling certificate and a copy of a debt repayment plan, if one was suggested by the counseling agency.
A record of interest a debtor has in an education IRA or State tuition program.
A copy of the Federal income tax return and any amendments while the bankruptcy case is pending, as well as copies of Federal income tax return and any amendments that had not been filed during the 3-year period ending on the date of the commencement of the case. The general rule is: have all of your required income tax returns filed before filing your bankruptcy case.
There are many documents the debtor is required to file during a bankruptcy case. Section 521 is one section that mandates documents. Your bankruptcy attorney is knowledgeable about these required documents, skilled in providing the information to avoid complications in your case, and experienced in filing the forms on time.