The bankruptcy trustee asked me for documents I don't have. What should I do?
is quite common for people who file for bankruptcy not to have every
document that the bankruptcy trustee asks to see. There are certain documents that
you need to gather before you file, such as tax returns for the two
years preceding the bankruptcy, pay stubs, and account balance
verifications -- if you don't provide these, your creditors meeting won’t go forward. The other documents that your trustee might request are less predictable and you might not have all of them.
Under the bankruptcy law, you have the duty to surrender financial
documents to the trustee and to cooperate with the trustee to the extent
necessary for the trustee to carry out the trustee’s duties. When the
trustee requests documents, you should turn over the ones you do have
and identify those that you don’t have.
If the requested documents are readily available, such as copies that
you can easily obtain from your accountant or your bank, request them
and tell the trustee that you will provide them as soon as you receive
For some documents, the trustee might be willing to accept the same
information in another form. For example, your bank might be able to
give you internal (bank version) printouts of your account activity that
contain all the information that the trustee is looking for, much more
quickly and at less expense than copies of statements.
If the trustee is requesting copies of older tax returns that you
have not kept, you can offer to sign an IRS form which will allow the
trustee to obtain the returns or transcripts directly from the Internal
Revenue Service. There may be similar forms for state tax returns.
It is important to keep in mind that the failure to maintain
financial documentation or records sufficient to satisfactorily explain
your financial situation is itself grounds for the denial of your
discharge. So while not everyone that files for bankruptcy will have
saved every document that the trustee requests, failure to keep any
financial records at all will probably result in your discharge being
(For answers to more of your questions about what to expect from the
bankruptcy trustee and how you must comply with the trustee's requests,
see The Bankruptcy Trustee.)
by: Patricia Dzikowski, Attorney