Preparing to File Bankruptcy


     Filing a bankruptcy under the new law will take much more preparation than formerly required.  It is very important that you begin this preparation immediately.  Consumers with significant financial problems who delay seeking advice from an attorney are at substantial risk of being further impoverished by lawsuits and garnishments, or unworkable debt repayment plans.  Without proper planning, it may become nearly impossible to get together sufficient funds to protect their rights through the bankruptcy  process.


  • You will be required to consult with a credit counseling agency prior to filing A list of approved credit counseling agencies are on the Bankruptcy Court's website (www.insb.uscourts.gov) and are available from your attorney.  Your consultation may be in person, by telephone, or via the internet.  You need to be prepared to give the credit counseling agency specific information about your debts and expenses.  The credit counseling agency should be able to provide you information regarding the management of your income, expenses, and debts.  They may be able to assist you in preparing a spending plan reasonable for  your income level.  If you have sufficient income,  they may be able to arrange a debt repayment plan with your creditors .  Bankruptcy law mandates that these agencies provide their services for a reasonable fee, or without cost if the debtor cannot afford to pay the fee.  This counseling must take place within the 6-month period prior to filing.


  • You will need to have records of income from each employer and any self-employment for the 6-month period prior to filing.  You may need to to contact your employer(s) for a printout of your wage information.  Year-to-date figures on your pay-stubs will not give the precise information required by the Court.


  • You may be asked to document your living expenses, so begin saving utility bills, insurance statements, and receipts for food, gas, medical, dental, and prescription medication expenses.  To be safe, begin saving everything relating to your expenditures.


  • You will need to provide detailed information  regarding each of your creditors.  Begin immediately to save any bills or correspondence relating to your debts.  I will need to review all credit card statements for the 90-day period prior to filing to make sure that the purchases and payments made within that period, if any, will not create complications for your case.  I will obtain a credit report for you from my internet provider.  That credit report will have most, if not all, the information needed to accurately complete your list of creditors for the Court.  Many creditors do not, however, report directly to credit reporting agencies.  It is your responsibility to provide information for such creditors, and for any necessary information not appearing on your credit reports.  You may want to obtain your own credit reports from the official site for free annual credit reports which is www.annualcreditreport.com.  I will give you guidance on getting together any information needed to properly prepare your bankruptcy papers.


  • You will need to provide the court with an inventory of all  of your property.  Real estate, personal property, cash, financial accounts, and any rights you may have to receive money  from  the government or a third party are types of property you must report.   The purpose of this inventory is to assure the Court that you do not have more property than the Indiana exemption laws allow you to keep free from the claims of your creditors .  One of my functions as your attorney is to make sure that you are able to keep the property that is most important to you. I will also help you organize and determine the value of your property

 ALL INFORMATION NEEDED TO PREPARE YOUR BANKRUPTCY PAPERS MUST BE COMPLETE, ACCURATE, AND TRUTHFUL.  The Court may audit (demand proof of) the information you provide regarding your case.  Failure to provide the documents requested may result in the dismissal of your case.  If you provide the court with information you know, or should know, is false, you may be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties in addition to the dismissal of your case.  The new law requires bankruptcy attorneys to do "reasonable investigation" as to the truth of the information listed in your bankruptcy papers.  This is a major reason why bankruptcies  are so much more expensive than under the prior law.