Document, document!

One of the biggest challenges in bankruptcy cases is providing documents to the other parties (the court, trustee, creditors, etc.). These documents are of critical importance in the early part of every case when all the parties are evaluating the bankruptcy and determining whether to object.

What this means is really quite simple: you have to keep all of your important documents and have them available. Not only will it help during the case, we will need these documents at the outset to evaluate the case correctly to ensure we are using the appropriate chapter of bankruptcy and are protecting as many of your assets as legally possible.

This is what you’ll need at a minimum:

  • Drivers’ license or state identification card
  • Social security card or other proof of your SSN not generated by you (W-2s are usually sufficient)
  • Three years most recent tax returns
  • Seven months’ most recent pay stubs or other proof of income
  • Homeowners and Auto insurance declarations page (the page listing the coverages)
  • Proof of any unusually large necessary expenses (medical expenses, charitable contributions, car repairs, etc.)

If you don’t have all this right now, don’t panic. Just come in and see us. However, we will need all those documents, and possibly some other items, before we file the case. But by maintaining adequate records, you can help put your case on the fast track to resolution. Believe it or not, a large number of bankruptcy cases are dismissed — resulting in ruined credit and no bankruptcy discharge — simply because people don’t have their documents together.

Gene Sollows is the managing attorney for the Plano office of Bailey & Galyen. His common sense, down-to-earth approach and empathetic bedside manner make him uniquely qualified to handle the family and financial problems of north Texans.