How to File for Bankruptcy and What to Expect

Getting a fresh start from debt

Bankruptcy is the process of reorganizing or receiving amnesty from debt via legal acknowledgement of personal insolvency. Debtors typically file for bankruptcy when there is no other option to resolve the financial complications arisen from uncontrollable debt. Filing for bankruptcy is typically a fairly involved process that can absolve a debtor from debt and allow a second lease on financial life.

When filing for bankruptcy there are a few things that’s expectation may assist in the bankruptcy filing process. Among those expectations are a considerable amount of personal documentation, a bankruptcy processing time that can last for months, bankruptcy filing fees and a record of the bankruptcy on county records and your credit report if approved by the bankruptcy court.

The requirements for filing bankruptcy are essentially met by the person filing for bankruptcy and faciliatated by a bankruptcy attorney or bankruptcy filing service if one is used. These criteria are determined by legislation such as the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BABCPA), and your local bankruptcy court.


Step 1

Assess debt

Complete a means test to determine if your income meets the eligibiligy criteria for bankruptcy in your locale. You can also perform a personal audit of income, assets and debt to determine how possible it would be to settle debts outside of bankruptcy.

Step 2

Credit counseling requirements

Bankruptcy petitioners are required to obtain approved credit counseling and record thereof, as part of the bankruptcy qualification process. For assistance in locating a qualifying credit counselor you may call the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCA) at 1-866-703-8787.

Step 3

Locate bankruptcy court

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court Locator is helpful in identifying and contacting your local bankruptcy court at which local bankruptcy petitions are filed. The bankruptcy court in your jurisdiction may also be able to inform you of the filing requirements for that particular court.

Step 4

Gather documentation

Financial documents will be required to file for bankruptcy. Tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, real estate and personal property appraisals, credit counseling certificate, application, debts, and inventory lists may all be needed in addition to any other documentation asked for by either a bankruptcy filing service or bankruptcy court official.

Step 5

File for bankruptcy

After all the necessary documentation is gathered, the type of bankruptcy petitioned for is identified, and the filing fee is paid the complete petition can be filed with the bankruptcy court. A court date hearing may then be scheduled in which a bankruptcy judge reviews the case and authorizes the bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy hearings information video

Bankruptcy clients need to be honest and complete in their dealings with the bankruptcy court. Watch this video, produced by the Office of the US Trustee, for more information.

You will Need
• Financial documentation
• Bankruptcy court filing fee
• Petition for bankruptcy application
• To meet with a bankruptcy official

Tips & Warnings
• Determine qualification before applying
• Research the U.S. Bankruptcy Court website
• Make sure you have all the right documentation
• Be aware of the different types of bankruptcy


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