COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT COMPLETING
Is it important to use my full middle name and/or suffixes (Jr., Sr., II. etc.)?
Yes. If you do not have a middle name, please indicate so with “NMN.”
Who do you consider to be my dependents?
Generally, this refers to minor children who live with you. Please include their names, genders and ages. Occasionally, this may include a parent who lives with you and may be claimed as a dependent for tax purposes.
I was recently married, but most of my debts are in my maiden name. Under which name should I file?
You will file under your current name, but please include all other names you have used in the past two (2) years.
Do I need to provide a pay stub with my worksheet?
Yes. We ask that you provide a current pay stub for each debtor so we are able to prepare an accurate income schedule reflecting all deductions. Please provide a pay stub for all jobs you hold at the time of filing. Also, please provide a pay stub that is current as of the Projected Filing Date [usually three (3) months from the date you retained the Attorney].
You ask for my GROSS income before taxes, but that’s not what I have to spend each month.
This is why we require a pay stub. In order for your expense schedule to be accurate, we must reflect your gross income and then subtract the deductions for taxes, insurance, retirement plan contributions, child support wage assessments, etc.
What information do you need for the past three (3) year’s income?
We need to know your gross annual income to date and the source(s), as well as your gross annual income from the two (2) years prior to filing and source(s). Generally, this information is available from W-2 forms and/or income tax returns and a current pay stub.
My spouse is not filing. Do I need to include his/her income information?
Yes. In some cases, a married individual may file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy without his or her spouse. In this case, we do require that information on your spouse’s income be reflected accurately and a pay stub be provided. In this way, we can prepare accurate income and expense schedules based on the total income and expenses of the household.
What expenses do I include and how do I know what they are? My utility bills are different each month.
The expense schedule we prepare is actually a proposed budget of expenses as they would be if you had no debt. Therefore, you can average your utility bills, food expenses, entertainment expenses, etc. You would not include payments on dischargeable, unsecured debt (for example, credit cards) as these debts will be discharged as a result of the bankruptcy. Also, do not list payments that are made through payroll deduction, such as child support and insurance. These are taken into account on your income schedule. All other regular, monthly living expenses should be included. In the case where a married individual is filing separately, you should also include any payments on debts held by the non-filing spouse. Additionally, you should include any payments you are making on non-dischargeable debts such as taxes and student loans.
How much am I allowed to spend on food, gasoline, entertainment, etc.?
As explained above, this is a projected budget of expenses. We are asking you to estimate what your unfixed, monthly expenses are when you are not cutting corners to pay the debts that are to be discharged in your bankruptcy. We will review the expenses with you.
Do I need to know my account numbers?
No. The required information for creditors is a name, address with ZIP code, and amount due. If you have two (2) accounts with the same creditor, list both. (They will be combined in your bankruptcy.)
The balances on my credit cards keep going up. How do I know how much I owe?
Due to finance charges, interest rates, late fees, and over limit fees, there is no fool-proof way to know exactly what you owe to a given creditor. With that in mind, we suggest that you list the balance due from the most recent statement. Regardless of the amount, it will be discharged in your bankruptcy.
Is it important to know the “year incurred”?
Yes. We need this information to process your bankruptcy completely and accurately. Ideally, we would like to know the dates (year only) from when you opened your account with a creditor to the last time you used the account. If you do not know when you opened a given account, you may provide only the year you last used it.
I have a credit card with a zero balance. Do I need to list it?
No. It is not necessary to list a card with a zero balance. Most credit card companies run routine credit checks and, when they discover that you have filed for bankruptcy, they will, most likely, close your account even though they are not included in the bankruptcy.
I have a gas card that I pay in full each month and I would like to keep it. Can I?
No. You may not incur debt while in bankruptcy and, as stated above, the credit card company will most likely close the account when they discover you are in bankruptcy.
Many of my debts are really old and they have stopped sending me bills. Do I need to include all of them and, if so, how do I know who they are?
Yes. Your bankruptcy will only discharge the debts of creditors who are listed. If you neglect to include a creditor, your bankruptcy will not discharge that debt. Therefore, it is crucial that you include everyone you might owe, even if the debt is very old. The best way to be certain that everyone is included is to pull a credit report prior to filing your case. You may contact the credit reporting agencies individually to obtain a credit report, or you may contact our office for assistance in getting the information.
I want to keep my car and house. Do I need to list the lien holder?
Yes. When you file bankruptcy, it is imperative that you list everyone to whom you owe a debt, regardless of your intentions and regardless of dischargeability. This includes the lien holders of mortgages and automobiles as well as student loans and taxing entities.
I was told that student loans and taxes are non-dischargeable. Do I have to list them as creditors?
Yes. You must list everyone to whom you owe a debt, regardless of dischargeability.
The amount of cash I carry and the balance of my bank accounts change on a daily basis. How should I determine what amounts to list?
You can approximate what you would expect to have on hand at the time of filing. You can also anticipate what your bank balances will be on your filing date. The filing date is the date when we actually file the case with the Court. For purposes of preparing your worksheet, use the date that you received as your Projected Filing Date when you opened your file with our office. This date is usually approximately thirty (30) days from the date you retained the Attorney.
How detailed does my list of household items need to be?
Rather than listing every picture on every wall, we suggest that you itemize your property in groups. For example, living room furniture, 3 bedrooms, 2 TVs, stereo, VCR, etc. Appliances should be listed individually, as would any other specific item with a substantial value such as computers, exercise equipment, musical instruments, hobby equipment, etc.
How do I know what my household items are worth?
The value assigned to items of personal property is in no way related to what you paid for the items, what it would cost to replace the items, or what the insured value of the items might be. The assessed value on furniture, clothing, computers, appliances, etc. is based on garage sale values. In other words, what price would you put on your household items if you sold them in a garage sale or the Thrifty Nickel? Or, what price would you pay at a garage sale for those same items? Jewelry is assessed at a pawn shop value.
I don’t know how much my car is worth. How can I find out?
You can check with a dealership or go to the Internet. If you provide us with some detailed information about your vehicle(s), we can also get this information from the Internet. Information we would need to do this includes year, make and model, mileage, engine size, type of transmission, options, and condition. We use the average of the trade-in value and the retail value.
How can I determine how much my home is worth?
You can check with a real estate agent or pay attention to the selling price of homes in your area. The condition of your home figures heavily in the value. If you are still having difficulty assessing a value, you can have a formal appraisal done; however, this can sometimes be expensive.
To download & print the worksheet, click here.