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Bankruptcy Petition: What Is It, And How Do You Fill One Out?

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy brings with it a good amount of paperwork. One of the documents you’ll need to fill out if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a bankruptcy petition (also known as Official Bankruptcy Form 1). This is something that your bankruptcy attorney will prepare (assuming you hire one). In this document, you’ll provide the bankruptcy court with basic information on yourself, where you reside, and details about your bankruptcy case. This petition is a standard filing in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. For more information about qualification, see our articles over Chapter 7 Qualification and Chapter 13 Qualification.

If you are filing or have filed for some other form of bankruptcy, you should know that the petition will be required in your case as well. However, this article discusses only the requirements for petitions submitted in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. So, if that applies to you, continue reading to find out more on what kind of information you’ll be asked to give, and what sort of issues might come up as you provide answers to certain questions.

The Bankruptcy PetitionHow to Get The Bankruptcy Petition

A copy of the petition (Form 1) can be obtained on the United States District of New Mexico Courts’ website at http://www.nmb.uscourts.gov/forms.

How to Fill Out The Bankruptcy Petition

The United States Court’s website mentioned directly above gives instructions on how the petition must be filled out. Though the website does not include discussion of various legal issues to keep in mind when answering the questions contained in the petition, it does explain what kind of information must be included in each of the petition’s sections. The website is a wise place to start before filling out the petition on your own.

The following is an outline of the information you will be asked to provide in each section of the petition, and a few legal issues that could present themselves under certain sections of the petition.

Debtor and Joint Debtor’s Names, Addresses, and Social Security Numbers

This section is relatively self-explanatory. If you have a spouse, you will need to determine whether you and your spouse should file a joint petition, or alternatively, each file your own petition individually. If you are a spouse in a same-sex marriage, you will also need to determine how same-sex marriages are treated in the district in which you are filing.

The Type of Debtor

If you are the owner of a small business as a sole proprietor, then you will be filing for bankruptcy as an individual.

Chapter of The Bankruptcy Code

In this section, you’ll check whichever box is applicable to you.

Nature of Your Debts

This section requires that you inform the court as to whether your debts are primarily consumer debts or business debts. Remember that a mortgage on a personal home is considered a consumer debt, so many homeowners filing for bankruptcy will have mainly consumer debts. Alternatively, a tax debt is classified as a business debt, so if your debt is a result of back taxes owed to the IRS, and you do not have a home mortgage, your debts will likely be considered mainly business debt. Depending on the nature of debt, the means test may not be required for Chapter 7 Qualification.

A Filing Fee

In this portion of the petition, you must simply inform the court whether you are asking them to waive the filing fee, whether you are attaching the full payment to the petition, or whether you’d like to pay the filing fee in installment payments.

Statistical and Administrative Information

In this section, the first set of boxes informs the bankruptcy trustee whether you anticipate that you will have assets available to sell in order to pay your debts. This is done so that your creditors can know whether it’s worthwhile for them to file a Proof of Claim against you. Whether or not you will in fact have assets to sell is dependent on how much of your personal and real property is exempt.

The second set of boxes in the same section will ask that you estimate the number of creditors with possible claims against you, and your total assets as well as your total debt. This section may be more easily filled out once you’ve already completed the other forms you’ll need to submit to file for bankruptcy.

Any Other Bankruptcy Cases Filed within the Previous 8 Years

When filing for bankruptcy, you must disclose any bankruptcy filings you’ve made in the past, or any filings by your spouse if you are filing jointly, for the eight years preceding the current filing. Also, you must disclose whether there are any pending cases which have been filed by your spouse. This information is required because there are laws limiting the frequency with which you can file for bankruptcy.

Exhibit A

This section is not applicable when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and need only be filled out by those filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Exhibit B

If you are represented by an attorney, your attorney will sign this portion.

Exhibit C

You will only need to fill out and attach Exhibit C to your petition if you own property that could present a danger to the public health or safety.

Exhibit D

This needs to be filled out and attached to your petition if you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It informs the court know that you have completed pre-bankruptcy credit counseling, which is required before you can file for bankruptcy.

Information about the Debtor /Venue

In this section, you will notify the court of why you are legally entitled to file for bankruptcy in that particular jurisdiction. In general, you should file for bankruptcy in whichever jurisdiction you have resided or have a principal place of business for the majority of the preceding 180 days.

Certification by Debtor Who Resides as Tenant of Residential Property

This section only needs to be completed by tenants who may be behind on their rental payments and whose landlords have gotten a judgment for possession against them, before the person filed for bankruptcy.

Despite an automatic stay that kicks in once you file for bankruptcy, certain kinds of evictions are nonetheless able to proceed. This section of the petition contains question designed to determine whether your eviction might be eligible for postponement, and whether your landlord has already obtained an eviction order against you. Certain evictions are allowed to proceed after you file for bankruptcy, despite the automatic stay.

The Bankruptcy Schedules (A-J)

These sections are discussed more in our article that details the bankruptcy schedules.

The Signature Page

The last page of the petition asks you to state, under penalty of perjury, that the answers and information you’ve provided are true. On this page you will also be asked to certify that you are informed about other forms of bankruptcy which may be available to you. Also, your lawyer (if you have one) will need to provide you with information on other types of bankruptcy beforehand. If you do not have an attorney, you will have to state that you have read the Notice to Consumer Debtors Under § 342 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.

Finally, if you have an attorney, he or she must sign the petition. Or, if you had filing help from a bankruptcy petition preparer, he or she will also have to sign.