Filing for bankruptcy requires you to disclose information about every part of your financial life. After reporting your income, expenses, assets, and debts on official bankruptcy forms called “schedules,” you’ll read and complete the Declaration About an Individual Debtor’s Schedules. This form requires you to declare that all of the information provided in your schedules is true and correct. The declaration also includes important warnings about the penalties for committing bankruptcy fraud.
(To learn about other Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy forms, see Bankruptcy Forms.)
All of the information you provide in your bankruptcy petition, including your schedules, must be true and correct. It’s a matter of fairness. Under the law, you get to keep a certain amount of income and property, and, in exchange, you receive the benefit of having certain debts wiped out. Any income or property over the amount you’re allowed to keep belongs to your creditors—so you can’t misrepresent your finances or leave an asset out. By signing the Declaration About an Individual Debtor’s Schedules, you're confirming that you’ve responded to every question fully and that the information included in your paperwork is true and correct.
At the top of the declaration, you’ll find easy-to-understand instructions. If you’re married, both you and your spouse are each responsible for reviewing all of the information included in the schedules before signing the declaration. A spouse cannot later claim that he or she didn’t understand the contents of the bankruptcy documents. The court will not allow it.
The court also frowns on any type of fraudulent behavior, such as failing to report property, or lying about your income—and it isn’t worth trying. Whatever scheme can be thought up, the court has already seen it. And engaging in bankruptcy fraud comes with stiff penalties, to the tune of a fine of up to $250,000, imprisonment for up to 20 years, or both.
If you paid someone (other than an attorney) to help you complete your paperwork, you’ll check the “Yes” box and list the name of the person in the space provided. Such people are often called bankruptcy preparers, and, for a reasonable fee, they will transfer the information you provide to your forms--but they can’t give you legal advice. A bankruptcy preparer must complete a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer’s Notice, Declaration, and Signature form and give it to you so that you can file it with your paperwork.
You can find the most recent version of the Declaration About an Individual Debtor’s Schedules—as well as the other forms you’ll need to file your bankruptcy—on the U.S. Court’s website at www.uscourts.gov/forms/bankruptcy-forms.