6 Steps To Follow When Filing For Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy is a major decision. The process will have a long-term effect on your credit and will impact the way your creditors can collect debts from you. Here are the basic steps involved in filing for bankruptcy:

1. Gather Your Paperwork

Before you file for bankruptcy, you need to gather the necessary documents. First, you'll need to produce information about your recent financial transactions. This information includes income, property, and debts. For example, you may be required to produce a month's worth of bank statements and proof of income. Don't hide assets or income — this is a fraud that may lead to criminal charges.

2. Find a Good Bankruptcy Attorney

The next crucial step is to find a good bankruptcy attorney. You want a bankruptcy lawyer who has handled many cases like your own. The attorney will help you file the forms and paperwork necessary for your case. Thus, provide the bankruptcy attorney with a list of your assets, debts, and income

The bankruptcy attorney will prepare a document that describes your financial situation with all that information. This document will help you file a petition in court and explain why you are filing for bankruptcy.

3. Get Credit Counseling

The U.S. Department of Justice provides a list of approved credit counseling agencies by state. You must meet with one of these counselors before filing your case and within 180 days after filing. This session will cost $50 or less, but it depends on your income and the agency. 

4. Fill Out the Bankruptcy Forms

You have to provide a lot of detail when you file for bankruptcy. Thus, you should be thorough and careful. If you're not sure how to answer a question or don't understand what it means, ask your bankruptcy attorney for help.

The forms are available on the U.S. Courts website, but they are long and complicated. So, hire a bankruptcy attorney. If you do go at it alone, expect to spend several hours working through the process and proofreading your completed forms for errors and inconsistencies.

5. File Your Petition With the Court

You will file two documents with the court. The first is your petition, which lists all your debts and assets and any other information about your financial situation. The second document is called a schedule of exempt property. Both documents are available from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court website or from the court clerk at your local bankruptcy courthouse. Before you file your petition, you have to pay the filing fees.

Your bankruptcy attorney is well seasoned with these procedures and can sort you out.

6. Attend 341 Meetings and Complete the Bankruptcy Course

Attend the 341 meeting or creditors' meeting with your bankruptcy attorney. The meeting will occur within 20 to 60 days of your filing. You must carry government-issued photo identification and proof of Social Security number to the meeting.

Complete a post-filing debtor education session from an approved agency within 45 days of the creditors' meeting.


Filing for bankruptcy can be a complicated process. These steps will help you navigate through the process properly. Feel free to seek legal assistance from your bankruptcy attorney if you get stuck.