Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated October 1, 2020
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Empire State, you will fill out numerous forms required by one of the four United States Bankruptcy Courts that handle cases filed in New York. The federal Bankruptcy Court assigned to your case will depend upon the county you live in. New York state law will influence your bankruptcy process in several ways, even though the Court overseeing your case is federal. For example, New York residents may choose whether to take advantage of federal exemptions or state exemptions. Most people choose to benefit from generous federal exemptions, but if you belong to a low-income household, you should be able to keep most or all of your property safe from creditors no matter which option you choose. Filing for Chapter 7 is pretty straightforward. Therefore, you can feel confident about completing this process on your own without hiring a bankruptcy lawyer as long as you follow all directions carefully as you fill out your New York bankruptcy forms.
Voluntary Petition for Bankruptcy
You may feel intimidated by the number of New York bankruptcy forms you are required to fill out before you can file your case with the Court. However, it’s important to understand that most of them are self-explanatory and don’t take very much effort to complete. For example, you will begin by filling out a Voluntary Petition for bankruptcy. This document is essentially a cover sheet for all of your other bankruptcy forms. It gives the Court information about where you live, whether you have ever filed bankruptcy before, the Chapter of bankruptcy you are filing now, and who you are generally.
New York Bankruptcy Schedule A/B: Property
New York Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms are mostly made up of documents referred to as "schedules." Individual schedules serve specific purposes and each is lettered for easy reference. New York bankruptcy Schedule A/B concerns information about your real and personal property. To fill out Schedule A/B, you will need to list all the property you own, usually in a general way. You will also be asked to respond to basic questions about your stuff. It’s important to resist the urge to leave possessions off this list when describing what you own. It’s also important to resist the urge to significantly downplay how much your property is worth. The Court will frown upon any accounting that is less than truthful and complete. With that said, this form doesn't make you go into great detail about your property though, so that makes the process of completing this form easier. For example, you will need to confirm that you own clothing, but you won’t need to admit that you own "Either you despise the Red Sox or you're wrong" t-shirts in four different colors.
New York Bankruptcy Schedule C: Exemptions
New York bankruptcy Schedule C addresses the matter of exemptions. It’s on Schedule C that you will note whether you are opting to take advantage of New York state or federal bankruptcy exemptions. You can’t "pick and choose" parts of each exemption structure to apply to your case, but if you opt primarily for state exemptions, you may take certain non-bankruptcy federal exemptions as well. This decision process is somewhat confusing at first, but it is straightforward once you remember to take a deep breath and carefully review the form's directions. Creditors will not be able to come after any of your property that is considered exempt. Most low-income Chapter 7 New York bankruptcy filers can keep most or all of their property no matter which exemption option they choose.
New York Bankruptcy Schedule D: Creditors Who Hold Claims Secured by Property
New York bankruptcy Schedule D deals with the challenges associated with secured debt. Secured debt usually applies to big purchases like real estate, cars and watercraft. Creditors are granted some legal rights to your property when they lend you money classified as secured debt. Most frequently, this kind of debt classification allows creditors to take your property back if you don't make required payments on time. For example, even outside of bankruptcy, if you stop paying your car loan, the car will be repossessed. The creditor then takes the proceeds of that sale to cover the balance of your debt. If there is a deficiency, because the car isn’t worth as much, the creditor can require you to pay the difference. If you’ve filed bankruptcy, of course, the deficiency balance is discharged and you don’t have to pay it. In this New York bankruptcy form, all you need to do is list your secured debts and identify the property that secures it.
New York Bankruptcy Schedule E/F: Creditors Who Hold Unsecured Claims
New York bankruptcy Schedule E/F asks about unsecured debt. Unsecured debt does not give creditors the right to your personal property when you fail to pay them back. In New York bankruptcy Schedule E/F, you will give the Court information about your priority and non-priority unsecured debts. You don't need to worry about which unsecured debts are classified as priority and which are classified as non-priority because the New York Bankruptcy Court will take care of prioritizing payments to your creditors based on the kind of debts you owe them. If you follow the directions specifying how to list your creditors on the form, you’ll be fine. If you can pay any of your creditors during your bankruptcy, priority debts, including taxes, government fines and family support will be paid out first. Then, if money is still available to pay creditors, nonpriority debts, including personal loans, credit card debt and medical bills, will be paid second.
New York Bankruptcy Schedule G: Executory Contracts and Unexpired Leases
In New York Bankruptcy Schedule G, you will provide the Court with details about any ongoing leases or contracts that you’re a party to. In general, an executory contract is an agreement that pays for a service or membership maintained over time. For example, streaming services, cellphone contracts, gym memberships, and participation in organizations that require regular dues are classified as executory contracts. Ongoing contracts like these still require you to make payments even after you have filed for bankruptcy in order to keep the service. You don’t need to list contracts or leases that have already been canceled, but if you still owe money for them, it’s important to disclose that on another one of the New York bankruptcy forms to make sure the balance gets discharged. Leases on apartments, houses, cars, watercraft, etc. that remain ongoing and are not fully paid off should also be listed in Schedule G of your New York Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms.
New York Bankruptcy Schedule H: Codebtors
It’s not unusual for married couples, parents and their adult children, or business partners to apply for credit jointly. When more than one person can be held legally responsible for the same debt, each individual named in a loan, lease or contract is classified as a codebtor. In New York Bankruptcy Schedule H, you must give the Court personal information for each codebtor associated with your jointly-held debts. Except for your spouse (if they are also filing for New York bankruptcy with you), creditors can still hold your codebtors responsible for all jointly held debt even after a bankruptcy discharge has been ordered in your case.
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New York Bankruptcy Schedule I: Income
In New York bankruptcy Schedule I, you will give the Court information about all of your regular sources of income. If you’re employed, you will provide details about your occupation, your employer's name and address, and how long you have been working for this employer. You will also use this New York bankruptcy form to inform the Court about any additional sources of income you regularly benefit from. If you receive payments from a pension, disability, Social Security or military benefits, if receive alimony and/or child support, earn business income or benefit from any other source of regular support, you will need to list it here. Just like when you file federal and state taxes, you can deduct specific financial obligations (like taxes) from your income total. A lower eligible income total will help you demonstrate that you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge. Deductions help to clarify why income is available to you and your family but your household still cannot afford to pay its creditors over time.
New York Bankruptcy Schedule J: Expenses
New York bankruptcy Schedule J is where you will talk about the expenses that your household needs to deal with regularly. Discussing your expenses helps the Court to understand why your income is so "stretched" or "tight" that it can’t be reasonably used to pay back your creditors. You need to discuss your expenses honestly, even if you are worried that the Court will perceive them as unnecessary. For example, you might be anxious that the Court will think that the money you spend on babysitters is unreasonable. However, the Court is most judgmental if you are not honest and accurate when listing your expenses. This New York Chapter 7 bankruptcy form, should be approached in a forthcoming way if you want to have a bankruptcy discharge entered in your favor.
Declaration About Schedules
In the Declaration about Schedules, you will swear that you have been both honest and forthcoming when filling out your New York Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms. Swearing an oath on this form has the same legal force as agreeing to "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" as a witness in Court. Dishonest reporting and/or intentionally leaving necessary information off your forms can lead to severe legal consequences. In addition to the rejection of your request for bankruptcy relief, you could be accused of contempt or bankruptcy fraud. In this form, you will also need to inform the Court if you benefited from the assistance of a petition preparer as you filled out the rest of your forms. Getting help from Upsolve does not need to be noted on this declaration because Upsolve is both free and not a petition preparer. The Court only needs to know whether you received any paid assistance.
Summary of Assets and Liabilities
Once you have completed all of your schedules, you will need to transfer specific totals listed in each document to your Summary of Assets and Liabilities form. The Summary of Assets and Liabilities form allows the Court to evaluate your finances as a whole after it has viewed each piece of your financial puzzle, as detailed in your schedules. Once you are done, take care to check that you haven't made any mistakes when transferring these totals. Your New York Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms should be correct and all required information should be noted before you turn them in or you risk delay or outright rejection of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge order.
Statement of Intention for Filing New York Chapter 7
New York bankruptcy forms are usually easy to complete. However, your Statement of Intention for Filing New York Chapter 7 form is not always as easy to handle as the rest of your forms. This form asks you whether you will return any property that you have not already paid off to the creditor. In particular, physical property classified as secured debt, or tied to unexpired leases or executory contracts will need to be addressed here. Deciding whether to keep making regular payments or return your property to creditors can be a difficult process, especially if you are unsure of whether you can reliably keep paying on the loan after your bankruptcy discharge has been ordered. When deciding what to do, keep in mind that the goal of your New York bankruptcy discharge is to give your family a fresh financial start and to ease your financial burdens so that you can focus on your most urgent financial needs instead. If continuing to pay for your property will prevent you from achieving these goals, it may be best to let it go.
Statement of Financial Affairs
Your Statement of Financial Affairs for New York bankruptcy will allow you to tell the Court the story of how your finances have affected your life over the past few years. This form asks questions regarding whether you have had to pay judgments related to lawsuits, received any government assistance, whether you have been affected by foreclosures, repossessions, garnishments, etc. and about your income and expenses during this time. You have already discussed some of this information in your schedules, but the Court seeks a broader view here. To be granted a New York bankruptcy discharge under Chapter 7, the Court needs to understand why you can't reasonably complete a 5-year bankruptcy repayment plan under Chapter 13. The Statement of Financial Affairs will allow you to make your case as you explain how your financial challenges have impacted you and your family over the past few years.
Chapter 7 Statement of Your Monthly Income: 122A-1
Before you can benefit from a bankruptcy discharge under Chapter 7, you must pass the Chapter 7 bankruptcy Means Test for New York. A Means Test explores whether the size of your household and its corresponding income and expenses meet limits outlined in the Bankruptcy Code. In this form, the Court will ask you to disclose your income for the past 6 months. In bankruptcy form 122A-1, you will provide the Court with proof that your household income makes you eligible for a Chapter 7 discharge order. This document is among the most important New York Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms you will fill out as you make your case. The information you provide will help persuade the Court that you can’t be expected to pay back even a portion of your debts under Chapter 13.
Statement About Your Social Security Numbers: Form 121
Your Social Security number is uniquely assigned to you and is not associated with any other living person. As a result, it is one of the most reliable ways that the government identifies you. This unique combination of nine numbers is so important and so sensitive that the Court uses a separate New York bankruptcy form just to double-check that the Social Security number associated with your bankruptcy case is listed correctly. Don't be casual when filling out bankruptcy form 121 because a mistake in noting your Social Security number could affect you and others. It could impact your bankruptcy case by slowing it down or leading to a rejection. Also, if another individual's Social Security number is mistakenly associated with your bankruptcy case, that person's credit could be negatively affected through no fault of their own.
A "Creditor Matrix" is a fancy way of describing a list of all the businesses and people you owe money to. When filling out your creditor matrix, you will need to double-check the names and addresses of every single one of your creditors. It is important to fill this New York bankruptcy form out accurately and as completely as you can because the Court will use this information to notify each creditor that you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Also, listing all your creditors is important because the discharge will not apply to a creditor that you intentionally leave off this list. If you rent an apartment or house and you want to get out of that lease, remember to include your landlord's information here too
Verification of Creditor Matrix New York
On the verification of creditor matrix New York form, you will (again) be asked to confirm that you have honored "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" on your bankruptcy documents. This form specifically concerns the accuracy and completeness of your creditor matrix. As annoying as it can be to state over and over, "Yes, I'm telling the truth!" you should take this form seriously. If the New York Bankruptcy Court suspects you haven't made every reasonable effort to hand over a complete and accurate list of your creditors and their contact information, your case could be in trouble. Another reason to take care with this form is that if you forget to include a creditor on your list, the debt you owe that creditor could survive your bankruptcy discharge.
Credit Counseling Course Certificate for Chapter 7 in New York
You are required to sign up for credit counseling as a part of your bankruptcy process. It’s important to remember that you must sign up for a course approved by the U.S Department of Justice or you will not get credit for attending the class. You need to make sure that the course you sign up for is approved for your specific district of New York Bankruptcy Court as well. You will receive a credit counseling course certificate once you have completed the course. Then, you will file this certificate with the rest of your New York Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms. In addition to the in-person courses listed on the DOJ's website for each district, you may be able to take an online course approved for participation by New York bankruptcy applicants, even though the company offering that course may be located somewhere else in the U.S.
New York Bankruptcy Fee Waiver
The fee to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York is $335. However, many individuals filing for bankruptcy understandably can't afford to pay this fee because they are already struggling to make ends meet. Thankfully, if you can't afford to pay the $335 fee, you may file a New York bankruptcy fee waiver request. This form asks the Court to allow you to file your case for free. You will likely have your fee waiver approved if your income is less than 150% of the federal poverty line and you can prove to the Court that you can't afford to pay this fee in installments, even after your case is filed and you no longer have to pay your creditors. The Court will send you a notice of approval or rejection for your fee waiver request after your New York bankruptcy forms have been processed.
New York Specific Bankruptcy Forms
Since New York bankruptcy cases are filed in federal court, a majority of the New York bankruptcy forms are national forms used in bankruptcy cases across the United States. While the clerk's office may not be able to provide you with the official forms, you can download each one of them, for free, as a fillable PDF. Additionally, each one of the bankruptcy districts in the Empire State has created certain local forms for use in cases filed within each district. These New York bankruptcy forms are available for download on the individual web pages for the four districts.
Eastern District of New York Bankruptcy Requirements
Special Forms –Affidavit Pursuant to Local Rule 1007-1(b) – Use in the event that you need to file additional bankruptcy documents after the date you first filed your Voluntary Petition.
The U.S. Court for the Eastern District of New York handles all bankruptcy cases filed in the following counties:
Northern District of New York Bankruptcy Requirements
Special Forms – None required
The U.S. Court for the Northern District of New York handles all bankruptcy cases filed in the following counties:
Greene (concurrent with Southern District)
Ulster (concurrent with Southern District)
Southern District of New York Bankruptcy Requirements
Special Forms – None required
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York handles all bankruptcy cases filed in the following counties:
Greene (concurrent with Northern District)
Ulster (concurrent with Northern District)
Western District of New York Bankruptcy Requirements
Special Forms –Cover Sheet for Schedules, Statements, Lists and/or Amendments – Use in the event that you need to file an amendment to your bankruptcy documents after the date you first filed your Voluntary Petition.
The U.S. Court for the Western District of New York handles all bankruptcy cases filed in the following counties: