Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Forms Explained
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The Chapter 7 forms packet consists of a voluntary petition, schedules, and statements. The term “petition” is often used to describe the set of forms individuals filing for bankruptcy submit to the court. Here's a walk through of all of them.
Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer.
Updated November 30, 2020
To file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have to submit the Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms to the court. There are about 23 official forms that are the same in Chapter 7 cases filed anywhere in the United States. Most bankruptcy courts also require certain local forms (sometimes called court forms).
The Chapter 7 forms packet consists of a voluntary petition (asking the court for relief), schedules, and statements. The term “petition” is often used to describe the set of forms individuals filing for bankruptcy submit to the court.
What Is The Purpose Of The Bankruptcy Forms?
If you’re struggling with debt, just looking at all the forms can be overwhelming. So, before you take the plunge, put it all in context and ask yourself, “What’s the point of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms?”
The point is to provide everyone (so, the bankruptcy court, the Chapter 7 trustee, the U.S. Trustee and your creditors) certain information about your financial situation. What you owe, what you own, how much you make and how much you spend. Easily said, not so easily accomplished. There wouldn’t be 23 different forms otherwise.
That being said, while completing the Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms can take some time and effort, in the end they are your opportunity to tell your story to the bankruptcy court. So, let’s take a look at the Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms and what part of your story each one of them tells.
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The Official Bankruptcy Forms
The official bankruptcy forms are the required forms that are the same everywhere in the United States. They’re created by the federal court system. You can download each one of them for free from the U.S. Courts here.
The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Forms Every Case Needs
Let’s start with the required forms that are needed in every individual Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. The term “individual” here (and on the forms) means that the filer asking the court for debt relief is a person, not a business. If a married couple files a joint case, it’s still called an individual bankruptcy.
Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy
Official Form 101, called the “Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing Bankruptcy” is the bankruptcy form that officially “starts” your case. It’s the same whether you’re filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It contains some basic information about you (including your name and address), what type of bankruptcy you’re filing, whether your debts are mostly consumer debts, and whether you have any nonexempt assets. If you have a bankruptcy attorney helping you they have to sign and provide their law firm’s information on page 8 of your voluntary petition.
One part of the Voluntary Petition asks you to “explain your efforts” about completing the pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course. That’s where you tell the court either (a) that you took the course and that the certificate of completion is attached, or (b) that you fall into one of the very narrow exceptions for this requirement.
While it’s not recommended to file each form separately, technically, this is the only form you absolutely need to file a bankruptcy case and get an automatic stay to stop a garnishment or delay a foreclosure.
A Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities and Certain Statistical Information
Official Form 106Sum is the Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities and Certain Statistical Information. It contains the “bottom line” kind of information from your schedules. Things like the total value of your property, the total amount of your debts, and information about your income and expenses. It functions a little bit like a coversheet for all your schedules, which is why it’s at the beginning of this list but it can only be completed once you’ve filled out your schedules. After all, that’s where you’ll be getting the information.
Schedule A/B: Property
Official Form 106A/B, titled Schedule A/B: Property is where you list all of your belongings. Part 1 lists real estate and Part 2 lists, well, everything else. In bankruptcy, everything you own is considered an asset, including things you don’t even have yet, but will get in the future. All of your assets are listed on Schedule A/B along with an estimate of how much they could be sold for.
Schedule C: Exemptions
Official Form 106C, or “Schedule C” is one of the most complicated schedules in any bankruptcy petition. In this form, you tell the bankruptcy trustee what property you claim is protected by an exemption.
All property listed on your Schedule A/B that is protected by a bankruptcy exemption is listed again on Schedule C along with a reference of the state or bankruptcy law you’re claiming protects it.
Schedule D: Secured Debts
Official Form 106D, called Schedule D: Creditors Who Hold Claims Secured By Property (individuals), is for secured debts. It lists debt secured by an interest in either real property (like a house) or personal property. The most common types of secured debts are car loans and home mortgages. You’ll get the chance to tell the court and the secured creditor what you want to do about the secured debt in your Statement of Intention.
Schedule E/F: Unsecured Debts
Official Form 106E/F - Schedule E/F: Creditors Who Have Unsecured Claims (individuals) is where all other debts are listed. Some unsecured debts, like taxes and child support are given special “priority” treatment in the Bankruptcy Code. These priority debts are listed in Part 1. Everyone else considered an unsecured nonpriority debt is listed in Part 2. Part 3 is reserved for collection agencies, lawyers, or any other debt collector that needs to be notified about your case because of their interest in a debt you listed in Part 2.
Schedule G: Contracts and Leases
Official Form 106G is pretty straightforward, even though it has a pretty intimidating name: Schedule G: Executory Contracts and Unexpired Leases (individuals). If you’re renting your home, leasing a car, or have a long term contract with your cell phone provider, it’s listed here. If you don’t have any leases or unexpired contracts, simply check “no” in response to Question 1.
Schedule H: Codebtors
Official Form 106H, titled Schedule H: Your Codebtors is similarly required for your bankruptcy petition, even if you don’t have any co-debtors. In that case, just answer questions 1 (letting the court know you don’t have any co-debtors) and 2 (letting the court know if you live or lived in a community property state) and move on. If you do have co-debtors on any of your debts, they’re listed in response to question 3.
Schedule I: Income
On Official Form 106I, also called Schedule I, you list your income from all sources. Whether it’s wages, business income, or a government benefit, all income sources are listed on Schedule I.
Schedule J: Expenses
Official Form 106J, titled Schedule J: Your Expenses (individuals) goes hand in hand with your Schedule I. Here is where you list your expenses - how much you spend every month on things like rent, food, transportation etc. Most Chapter 7 filers note that their expenses are either in line with or higher than their income. That’s pretty normal. If you have a lot of money left over at the end of your Schedule J calculation, it may be a signal to the U.S. Trustee that you have enough disposable income to fund a repayment plan as part of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Declaration About an Individual Debtor’s Schedules
You may not have noticed as you thumbed (or scrolled) through all of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy schedules, but none of them contain a place for your signature. That’s where Official Form 106Dect, the Declaration About an Individual Debtor’s Schedules comes in. The sole purpose of this bankruptcy form is for you to sign under penalty of perjury that all of the information listed in your schedules is true.
The Statement of Financial Affairs
Official Form 107 is called Your Statement of Financial Affairs for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy, or the SOFA for short. It covers information about your financial situation that isn’t part of the schedules - from your income over the past few years, to legal actions you may have pending against you and much more.
Chapter 7 Statement of Current Monthly Income
Official Form 122A-1, formally called the “Chapter 7 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income” is part one of the means test form. If - after completing the form, you’re below the income limits for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’ll check the box that says there is no presumption of abuse.
A List of Creditors
The Bankruptcy Code requires that you submit a list of your creditors and their addresses in addition to the schedules and statements listed above. Essentially, this boils down to address labels, so the bankruptcy court clerk’s office doesn’t have to pull that information from your schedules. This list is often called the “creditor matrix” or “creditor mailing matrix” and is usually accompanied by a verification - i.e. a document you sign that says all of your creditors’ names and addresses are listed. But, there’s no official form for it, so make sure to check with your local bankruptcy court to find out their preferred format.
Other Official Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Forms (You May Also Need)
The bankruptcy forms listed above are what’s needed in every single individual Chapter 7 bankruptcy. But, depending on your financial situation, there may be some additional information the court will need. The forms used to provide this additional information are not really optional - they’re more supplemental. They supplement the information you’ve provided in your petition with some additional information.
Fee Waiver Application
If you can’t afford to pay the Chapter 7 court filing fee and your household income is less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, you can use Official Form 103B to ask for a fee waiver. This Application to Have the Chapter 7 Filing Fee Waived is submitted to the court at the same time as your petition.
Application to make payments for filing fee
If you’re not eligible for a fee waiver, but can’t wait to save up the full $338 filing fee, you can submit Official Form 103A, the Application for Individuals to Pay the Filing Fee in Installments with your petition. This allows file your case (and stop a garnishment) with only a small down-payment (amounts vary by district) and then make up to 3 payments to pay off the fee in full.
Statement About Your Social Security Number
This form, Official Form 121, tells the court your full social security number. If you’re filing with the help of a lawyer, you likely won’t need this document. If you do submit it, make sure you keep it separate from your other bankruptcy forms so the clerk’s office knows to keep it off the court’s docket.
Statement of Intentions
You’ll need to complete and file Official Form 108, titled the Statement of Intention for Individuals Filing Under Chapter 7, if you have any secured debt (listed on your Schedule D) or any unexpired contracts (listed on your Schedule G). For example, if you have a car loan, this form tells the bank what you want to do about it. Even though this form isn’t due until a little later in the process, if you have secured debts it’s best to get this form filed with the rest of your Chapter 7 forms package.
Chapter 7 Means Test Calculation
If your household income is greater than the median income for your state (as determined by the Chapter 7 Statement of Current Monthly Income that everyone has to file) you’ll need to complete the Chapter Means Test Calculation on Official Form 122A-2 as well. This form is where you show the bankruptcy court that you don’t have any disposable income.
Means Test Exemption
You file Official Form 122A-1Supp, called the Statement of Exemption from Presumption of Abuse under §707(b)(2), if you’re not required to complete the means test because your debt is primarily non-consumer debt or based on your military service.
Schedule J-2: Expenses for Separate Household
Official Form 106J-2, titled Schedule J-2: Expenses for Separate Household of Debtor 2 is used when a married couple filing bankruptcy together doesn’t actually live together.
Initial Statement About an Eviction Judgment Against You
Official Form 101A is used if you’re behind on your rent and your landlord has received a judgment to evict you. If you’re able to bring your rent payments current, you can indicate as much on this form.
Statement About Payment of an Eviction Judgment Against You
Official Form 101B is similar to the one above, but comes into play if you’re attempting to stay in your home for more than 30 days after you file.
Common Local Forms
The “local forms” are different for every bankruptcy district. So, the best source of information for your court’s local forms is your court’s website. Here are a couple of common local forms across the United States.
Declaration About Your Income: In some districts you submit your paycheck stubs to the court, not to the bankruptcy trustee. Most of them have some kind of cover sheet that is filed with the paycheck stubs. Some districts only require this form if you don’t have any paycheck stubs.
Creditor Matrix and Verification: All courts ask that you submit the creditor matrix to them in a certain format and typically along with a “verification” page, where you sign that the list includes all of your creditors and their addresses. Some districts even required that this list be submitted to the local courthouse on a USB drive.
Pro Se Declaration: Some districts have a separate document for filers who are not represented by an attorney.
As you see, there are quite a few different forms. But, the information you’ll need for each one of them is typically pretty easy to get. When you’re filling out the forms (or a questionnaire about the forms) make sure you have your paycheck stubs and recent tax returns handy along with any other documents you’ll find helpful. Then, remember, you're telling your story to the court, so, take a deep breath, be honest, and don’t leave anything out. This is the hardest part, but you can do it!
If you’re interested in filing Chapter 7 but can’t afford to hire an attorney, Upsolve’s free web tool may be just what you need to get you started. It takes you through all the questions you’ll need to answer when filling out the forms and generates the forms for you. Then, all you have to worry about is filing them with the court.