Free access and download of over 300 bankruptcy forms, schedules and instructions needed to file for bankruptcy protection under chapters 7, 11, 12 or 13 of the federal bankruptcy code.
Although the federal government recommends consulting a qualified attorney before filing bankruptcy, the government has purposely made it possible for anyone to file his or her own petition.
Before jumping in, I highly encourage you to follow the steps below:
1. See if you meet the basic "Means Test"
2. Determine whether you Need an Attorney
3. Avoid these Top 10 Filing Mistakes
3. Download, fill out, and then file these Basic Forms
Up Filing Your Own Bankruptcy Petition
What follows are several tips to help ensure you are successful at filing your own bankruptcy case.
Tip 1: Most state bankruptcy courts offer a free guide to help consumers who plan to file their own bankruptcy without an attorney.
Download State Guides Here
Tip 2: If filing chapter 13, be prepared to file a repayment plan. Since there is no nationally prescribed form, many state bankruptcy courts offer a locally-prescribed format.
Download Standard Repayment Plan Here
Important Note: Complex issues may arise in the crafting of a chapter 13 plan. If you're planning to file a chapter 13 case without a lawyer, we highly encourage you to discuss your plan with the standing chapter 13 trustee for the district in which you intend to file your case. Obtain the name, office address, and telephone number from the bankruptcy clerk's office.
Tip 3: Fill in ALL blank spaces and lines on each form! DO NOT leave any lines or boxes empty. Many forms instruct you to write "N/A" or "None" in response to questions that do not apply or that you have nothing to report. On forms that do not have specific instructions, use N/A, None, or cross out the entire line and place your initials over the line.
Tip 4: SIGN ALL DOCUMENTS! Many documents require signatures in more than one place. If filing a joint bankruptcy case, the spouse must also sign all required places as well.
Tip 5: A best practice is to use extra copies of the forms as worksheets.
Carefully read ALL instructions BEFORE beginning to fill out each bankruptcy form. Use extra copies of the forms as practice worksheets. Fill out one worksheet at a time. Review it for mistakes and missing information and then after making all corrections, transfer the information to a clean blank form. Set each completed form aside for signing and filing.
According to the federal bankruptcy code, individuals have the right to file a bankruptcy case without employing an attorney. However, before doing so, we highly encourage you to read your state's free guide (if available). In addition, there are plenty of "self-help" books on filing bankruptcy and other reference materials available in many libraries and bookstores.
Though many public libraries have reference sections containing copies of the Bankruptcy Code, Bankruptcy Rules, state laws, and additional books that help explain how to file bankruptcy, two excellent resources are the Federal Bankruptcy Website and U.S. Code Title 11 by Cornell University's Law School.
If you have property or high value assets, then I highly encourage you to speak with a qualified bankruptcy attorney. The evaluation will help you determine if bankruptcy is your best option, or whether you should consider other options first.
Up Mailing List of Creditors
Every bankruptcy court requires a Creditor Mailing Matrix (list for notifying creditors about your case.) This list must contain the names and addresses of creditors as well as specified entities, such as the district office of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The starter kit includes this in a Word format. If you need other district-specific forms, use this list of federal bankruptcy courts to find them.