Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common type of personal bankruptcy in the United States. In this article, you'll find:
Most of the forms are used in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as well. You'll also find a list of the documents you'll need to provide to the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee after you file your petition under "What Happens Next?"
Bankruptcy allows individuals to eliminate liability for qualifying debt and receive a fresh start. The process starts when debtors file a completed petition with the bankruptcy court that includes disclosures about all aspects of the filer's financial situation, including income, debt, asset, and financial transaction information.
Click on the link to be taken to the topic or scroll down. Each form includes instructions that tell you what to put on the form, but the forms don't explain the legal consequences of your disclosures. You must do the appropriate research or hire a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney.
The Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy (voluntary petition) is the introductory form where you disclose your personal information such as your name and address. This is also where you indicate your intention to file for Chapter 7 and provide information about the nature of your debts (such as consumer or business), estimated amount of creditors, assets, and liabilities, and any prior bankruptcies filed within the last eight years.
Before you can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must also complete a credit counseling course with an approved agency. You'll indicate that you've done so in your petition and attach a copy of the completion certificate.
Click the link to view or download Form 101—Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
Schedule A/B: Your Property is where you disclose any ownership interests you have in both real property and personal property. Real property includes your house, condominium, land, or any other type of real estate you own. When you complete Schedule A/B, provide the description and location of the property, the nature and value of your interest, and the amount of secured claims (such as mortgages or other liens) encumbering the property.
In Schedule A/B, you must also list all of your personal property (property other than real estate). This includes assets such as cash, bank accounts, household goods, clothing, insurance policies, stocks, bonds, annuities, retirement accounts, cars, musical instruments, and any other property of value.
Schedule A/B contains an extensive list of the types of assets that should be included on this form. Be sure to include all of your personal property even if you think it is worthless. If you intentionally omit an asset, you may be denied your discharge and even prosecuted for bankruptcy fraud.
When determining the value of your personal property in Schedule A/B, use the property's replacement value. Replacement value is the amount of money it would cost to purchase an item similar in age and condition (what a retail merchant would charge for a similar item).
Click the link to view or download Form 106A/B—Schedule A/B: Your Property from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt is where you list the property you can protect in bankruptcy. If you file a Chapter 7 case, you are allowed to keep a certain amount of property, called "exempt" property. If an asset is exempt, it is safe. However, the appointed bankruptcy trustee has the power to sell your nonexempt assets to pay back your creditors.
Each state (and the federal system) has a unique set of bankruptcy exemptions (and a few states allow their citizens to use the federal exemptions). The amount of property you can keep in Chapter 7 bankruptcy depends on the exemption laws of your state.
Schedule C is where you list and claim your exemptions for each of the assets listed in your petition—it is arguably one of the most important forms in your bankruptcy petition. To fill out Schedule C, you must determine what bankruptcy exemptions are available to you and research them thoroughly. If you are unsure about whether your property is exempt, talk to a bankruptcy attorney in your area.
Click the link to view or download Form 106C—Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
Schedule D: Creditors Who Have Claims Secured by Property is where you include a secured claim—a loan or obligation for which you have pledged a piece of property as collateral. If you fail to pay the obligation, called "defaulting," the creditor typically has a right to take back the property through foreclosure or repossession. The most common examples of secured claims include your mortgage and car loan.
When you fill out Schedule D, include the creditor's name and contact information, the nature and amount of the lien, date it was incurred, and the description and value of the property subject to the lien. If the lien amount exceeds the value of the property, list the difference in the unsecured portion column.
Click the link to view or download Form 106D—Schedule D: Creditors Who Have Claims Secured by Property from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
Schedule E/F: Creditors Who Have Unsecured Claims is where you list remaining debts, such as credit card bills, personal loans, medical bills. You also list claims which are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, called "priority claims." Common examples include certain taxes and domestic support obligations, such as alimony or child support.
Schedule E/F contains instructions regarding which types of debt are considered priority debts. If you believe that only a certain amount of the creditor's claim is entitled to priority, disclose the entire claim but list the portion not entitled to priority in the appropriate column.
You must disclose all of your debts in your bankruptcy schedules even if you want to repay them. If you forget to list a debt, it may not get discharged in your bankruptcy. So you should carefully review all of your debts to make sure they are included. It is typically a good idea to obtain a copy of your credit report and compare it against your other bills so that you don't miss anything.
If a secured lender forecloses on or repossesses your property, it will typically sell it at an auction to satisfy its debt. If the sale proceeds are not enough to cover the balance of your loan, you may be on the hook for a deficiency balance (whether you can be held liable for a deficiency depends on the type of property and your state's deficiency laws). If you have a deficiency balance, you will list it on Schedule E/F because, after foreclosure or repossession of the property, it isn't a secured debt any longer.
Click the link to view or download Form 106E/F—Schedule E/F: Creditors Who Have Unsecured Claims from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
Schedule G: Executory Contracts and Unexpired Leases is where you list contracts into which you and a lender have entered and to which both parties are still obligated. Common examples of contracts and leases that should be disclosed on Schedule G include:
When you file for bankruptcy, your rights under the contract become the property of the bankruptcy estate. The trustee has the power to assume your contract or lease if it will generate value for your creditors. But unless you are paying below-market rates or the trustee can otherwise profit from your contract or lease, he or she will not assume it.
If you want to continue with your lease or contract, you can assume it on your Statement of Intention for Individuals Filing Under Chapter 7 form (discussed below). If you want to get out of the lease, you can reject it.
Click the link to view or download Form 106G—Schedule G: Executory Contracts and Unexpired Leases from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
Schedule H: Your Codebtors is where you list codebtors on any of your debts. But keep in mind that your discharge only eliminates your liability for the debt, not your codebtor's liability. Your creditors can still go after your codebtors even after you file for bankruptcy relief.
Click the link to view or download Form 106H—Schedule H: Your Codebtors from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
On Schedule I: Your Income, you disclose your employment information and income. Keep in mind that if you're married but filing for bankruptcy without your spouse, you still must include your nonfiling spouse's income on Schedule I. Find out how to qualify using the marital adjustment in bankruptcy.
Click the link to view or download Form 106I—Schedule I: Your Income from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
Schedule J:Your Expenses works with Schedule I to give the court details about your monthly budget. You'll list your monthly expenditures on Schedule J. The amount on Schedule J will be deducted from the net income listed on Schedule I to determine how much disposable income you have each month.
To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must first pass the means test (discussed below). However, even if you pass the means test, the court may still determine that you are not eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if your budget shows a significant amount of disposable income each month. If you and your spouse do not live in the same household, you can deduct the additional living expenses by filing Schedule J-2 (Expenses for Separate Household of Debtor 2).
Click the link to view or download Form 106J—Schedule J: Your Expenses from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
This form gives the court and trustee a snapshot of your entire financial situation. Once you complete Schedules A through J, you'll transfer the totals to this form.
Click the link to view or download Form 106Sum—Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities and Certain Statistical Information from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
After you complete your bankruptcy schedules, you must declare that they are true and correct to the best of your knowledge by signing this form. Keep in mind that you are signing this declaration under penalty of perjury. If you lie on your bankruptcy papers, your bankruptcy could be dismissed without a discharge, and you could face criminal charges for bankruptcy fraud.
Click the link to view or download Form 106Dec—Declaration About an Individual Debtor's Schedules from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
Your Statement of Financial Affairs for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy (also known as the "Statement of Financial Affairs" or "SOFA") is an extensive form that provides information to the court about your financial dealings. On the Statement of Financial Affairs, you disclose your past income, recent creditor payments, lawsuits, previous foreclosures and repossessions, transfers of property, closed bank accounts, business information, and more. Review each question carefully to make sure you answer it accurately.
Click the link to view or download Form 107—Statement of Financial Affairs for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
If you have secured debts, executory contracts, or unexpired leases, the Statement of Intention is where you tell the court and the creditor what you intend to do with the property and the debt. For secured debts, you must indicate whether you intend to keep or surrender the property. If you want to keep the property, state whether you wish to redeem or reaffirm the debt.
If you don't want to keep a certain piece of property, such as a car or house, you can walk away by surrendering the property to the creditor. When you surrender property, you essentially give it back to the creditor. Your personal liability for the loan will be wiped out by the discharge, so you don't need to worry about the creditor coming after you to collect a deficiency (a deficiency occurs when the auction price is less than what you owe) if it can't sell the property for enough money to pay off the loan.
If you want to retain the property, a secured lender may require you to reaffirm your debt. Your bankruptcy discharge eliminates your personal liability for all discharged debts. By reaffirming, you sign a new contract with the lender and agree to make yourself personally liable for the debt again despite your discharge.
Because you are giving up the benefit of your discharge, this is not a decision you should take lightly. If you are unsure about reaffirming a debt, consider talking to a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney to learn about your options. In general, if the amount of your debt significantly exceeds the value of the collateral, it might not a good idea to reaffirm.
You also have the option of redeeming property you wish to keep. When you redeem an asset in bankruptcy, you pay the lender the replacement value of the property in one lump sum. After you redeem the property, the creditor's lien is removed, and you own it free and clear. The remaining balance of the loan is wiped out by your discharge. But in most cases, this is not possible for many debtors because they don't have enough money to come up with a lump sum payment, and it's available only for certain types of property. Learn more about redeeming and reaffirming debt in bankruptcy.
Click the link to view or download Form 108—Statement of Intention for Individuals Filing Under Chapter 7 from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a debtor's disposable income must be low enough to pass the means test. The means test compares your average gross monthly income for the six months before bankruptcy against the median income for a similar household size in your state.
If your income is below the state median, you automatically pass and don't have to fill out both forms. However, if your income is above median, you have to complete the second form and disclose your expenses to see whether you qualify.
If you're exempt from taking the means test, complete Form 122A-1Supp.
Click the link to view or download Form 122A-1—Chapter 7 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income, Form 122A-1Supp—Statement of Exemption from Presumption of Abuse Under §707(b)(2), or Form 122A-2—Chapter 7 Means Test Calculation from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
The purpose of this form is to provide information about services available to you from credit counseling agencies, the types of bankruptcy available to individuals, and what can happen if you commit a bankruptcy crime.
Click the link to view or download Form 2010—Notice Required by 11 U.S.C. § 342(b) for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
This statement is where you disclose your social security number. Because bankruptcy is a financial proceeding, it is tied to your social security number and will be reported on your credit report. Your Statement About Your Social Security Numbers will not appear on the court's public docket due to the sensitive nature of the information it contains. As a result, each bankruptcy court will typically have special instructions on how to file this form.
Click the link to view or download Form B121—Your Statement About Your Social Security Numbers from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form webpage.
When you have filled out all required bankruptcy forms and schedules, review them carefully to make sure they are complete and accurate. Once you are satisfied, you can file them with the court by paying the appropriate filing fee.
Currently, the required court filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $338 (as of December 2020). But court filing fees are updated periodically and can change. If you can't afford to pay the filing fee, you might be eligible for a waiver if your combined household income is less than 150% of the applicable poverty guideline in your area. To apply for a waiver or to pay the fee in installments, complete the appropriate form.
In addition to completing the forms listed above, you will need to prepare a creditor mailing list (also called a creditor matrix) for the court before filing your case. The court uses the creditor matrix to send notice of your bankruptcy to all of your creditors. Each court has formatting guidelines for creditor mailing lists. Check with your local bankruptcy court to learn the requirements in your area for preparing your creditor mailing list.
After you file your bankruptcy, the court will notify you of the date and location of your 341 meeting of creditors (also called the 341 hearing). The meeting of creditors is a mandatory hearing where the trustee and your creditors can ask you questions under oath about your financial affairs and the information disclosed in your bankruptcy petition. The meeting is typically be scheduled for 20 to 40 days after your filing date. If you fail to attend the meeting of creditors, your case will likely be dismissed without a discharge of your debts. As a result, if you can't make it to your 341 hearing, you must notify the trustee immediately.
You'll provide financial proof of the claims made in your bankruptcy petition before the meeting of creditors. Some courts have you file some of the forms with the bankruptcy court and send the others to the Chapter 7 trustee appointed to your case seven days before the hearing. In many courts, you'll send all documents to the Chapter 7 trustee.
Here's what you can expect to provide:
The trustee can ask for other documents as long as it's reasonably related to your case, such as:
The last thing most Chapter 7 debtors need to do to qualify for debt discharge is to take the second financial management course. Learn about the differences between credit counseling and debtor education.
Filing for bankruptcy can be complex. If you plan to file on your own behalf, consider a step-by-step self-help book like How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O'Neill or talk with a bankruptcy lawyer.