How to File for Bankruptcy in Philadelphia (2021 Guide)

If you are overwhelmed by debt or are facing a home foreclosure, you could be considering filing for bankruptcy. However, once you have made this choice, you probably do not know how to start the process. To understand what is required, contact an experienced Bucks County bankruptcy attorney at Young, Marr & Associates. Below, we will discuss the basic steps and documents needed for filing for bankruptcy in Pennsylvania.

Before Filing For Bankruptcy in Philadelphia, Take Inventory of Your Debts and Assets

Filing for bankruptcy is a serious decision. You should consult with an experienced Philadelphia bankruptcy attorney before deciding whether it is the right choice for you. However, before speaking with a lawyer, you need to take stock of your debts and property. No matter how skilled an attorney is, they require information if they are going to offer an opinion or discuss various options.

First, you should gather all any outstanding bills, account statements, or loan documents. It is also advisable to run a free credit check to see if there are other debts or judgments against you. If a creditor is suing you or if your home is in foreclosure, you should collect all the documents and legal papers into a file. Make a note of any upcoming court dates or deadlines. Filing for bankruptcy is often about timing.

Your property and assets will impact the chapter of bankruptcy you will have to file. You should have a relatively complete list of the property you own, taking special care to list the value of your more expensive assets, such as your home, car, investments, or other valuable items. When you file for bankruptcy, you must disclose all your personal and real property. Your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer will need to know what you own.

Consult With Our Experienced Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorney

Your next step is to talk to a knowledgeable New Jersey bankruptcy attorney to discuss your situation and the available options. Bankruptcy is a powerful tool. However, it is not applicable in every situation. After reviewing your debts, assets, and financial goals, a skilled attorney will present several options. For example, if your home is scheduled for sheriff sale and you wish to keep it, filing for Chapter 13 would probably be your best option. However, if you decided that you could no longer afford the house, Chapter 7 could be more beneficial.

The Bankruptcy Means Test

Typically, people in Philadelphia will file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In some cases, the choice is made because of the debtor’s ultimate goal, for instance, saving their home from foreclosure or having a repossessed vehicle returned. However, in other situations, the chapter of bankruptcy is determined by the individual’s income and assets.

A debtor is required to complete what is known as the “means test” when preparing a bankruptcy filing. The means test determines a person’s disposable income. To achieve this, the debtors’ previous six months of income are calculated, along with some actual and allowed expenses, to establish an average monthly income. If the amount is higher than the median average in Philadelphia, then a person would be required to file Chapter 13. You will need to provide the Allentown bankruptcy attorney with evidence of your income for the previous six months, including pay stubs, canceled checks, bank statements, profit and loss statements, or any other documents that show your income.

The Required Bankruptcy Schedules in Philadelphia

Whether you file for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7, the majority of documents that are filed are the same.

Voluntary Petition

The first document is the voluntary petition. The petition contains your basic information, name, bankruptcy chapter, and attorney information. This is followed by a certification of credit counseling and a summary statement of the documents, or schedules, that follow.

The bulk of your bankruptcy filing are your schedules A through J. You will have to provide your Quakertown bankruptcy attorney documents and statements to complete your schedules.

Schedules

Schedule A lists all your real property. You will have to provide a fair market value of each of your properties and any remaining balance you owe on the property. Schedule B includes the rest of your personal property, including cash, bank accounts, household goods, clothes, vehicles, life insurance policies, and any other property you own. Your exempted property will be listed on schedule C.

Schedules D, E, and F is where your creditors and debt are listed. Your creditors will be broken down into three categories, secured, priority, and unsecured. These schedules need to include the creditor’s name, a contact address, an account number, the date the debt was incurred, the amount due, and the collateral if it is a secured debt.

The following two schedules are G and H. If you have any executory contracts, unexpired leases, or a partially performed contract, it and the parties involved will be listed on your schedule G. Schedule H is for any co-debtors you might have.

Schedule I and J are two important schedules that work together. Schedule I lists all your income, including your spouse’s income if you are married and any contributions from friends or family members. For bankruptcy purposes, income casts a wide net and could include wages, unemployment, social security benefits, disability, tax refunds, and contributions.

Schedule J is where a debtor will list their monthly expenses. The total monthly expenses will be subtracted from the total monthly income. The remaining balance must be under a certain amount to qualify for Chapter 7. If the debtor is filing Chapter 13, then the amount must be enough to afford the Chapter 13 plan payment.

Bankruptcy Plan

If you file for Chapter 13, a bankruptcy plan will be submitted with your initial schedules and documents. Our Bethlehem bankruptcy attorney will prepare the plan based on the information available when the case is filed. In most bankruptcy cases, the original plan will have to be amended to address the claims filed by creditors.

In addition to these documents, your bankruptcy attorney will prepare the statement of financial affairs, an attorney disclosure statement, and some various other documents depending on your case.

A debtor must take a credit counseling course from a certified provider before their case is filed. If you have not completed this course before coming into our office, we will provide you the contact information of a certified agency.

Call Our Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorney if You Have Question About Filing

Filing for bankruptcy requires attention to detail and numerous documents and statements. Our Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorney will guide you through the process. At Young, Marr & Associates, we believe that someone filing for bankruptcy should have a firm understanding of the process. Our staff and attorneys will work hard to help ensure your bankruptcy is successful. However, our office will require your participation and efforts as well. Call (215) 701-6519 to schedule a free and confidential appointment to answer any questions you might have regarding bankruptcy.