No matter how careful you are when completing your bankruptcy forms, mistakes can still happen. If you made a mistake or forgot to include something when you initially filed, you can quickly correct your error by amending the forms. Read on to learn more about why you may need to amend a bankruptcy form and how to do it.
The bankruptcy process starts when a debtor files a packet of bankruptcy forms with the court's clerk. The primary form—the petition—starts the case. It provides identifying information such as the debtor's name and address and the type of bankruptcy chapter the debtor wishes to file.
But the court needs more. A debtor must disclose all financial information—such as income, assets, debts, and property transfer history—on bankruptcy forms called "schedules." You must complete each schedule even if you don't have any information to report. Once complete, the debtor files the schedules along with the petition.
The petition and schedules don't make up the entire bankruptcy packet, however. Additional forms include Your Statement of Financial Affairs and Your Statement About Your Social Security Numbers. Also, depending on the particular chapter you file, you might still have others to complete. For instance, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filer must pass the means test before receiving a discharge (the order that wipes out qualifying debt).
Sometimes, however, you need to make a change to your paperwork after the initial filing. Below are some of the main reasons why you might need to amend your bankruptcy paperwork.
Depending on where you live, each district court has its procedures for amending a bankruptcy form—and possibly a local form you'll use, as well (often a cover sheet of sorts). But the procedure should be similar. Most courts provide information for those filing without an attorney on the court's website.
You can usually go on your local bankruptcy court's website to find the forms and procedures on how to amend your bankruptcy papers. Alternatively, you can find this information at the courthouse.
The necessary forms will normally include a blank version of the specific form you wish to amend, an amendment cover sheet form, and possibly an additional notice form if you add more creditors.
Follow the instructions in the local rules or on the forms to fill them out correctly. If there was a mistake on the original form filed with the court, fill in the corrected information on the new blank form. If you omitted something, include it in the new form.
Certain districts will ask you to submit only the information being amended. But others may require that you copy the unchanged information from the original form. Also, most districts will require you to write "amended" on the new forms and may ask you also to specify whether you are adding, deleting, or correcting information.
After completing all the necessary forms, you need to file them with the court. The local rules and procedures will have information on how to do this. The court clerk can also assist you and let you know if anything is missing. Most amendments are free, but you may need to pay an additional fee if you are adding new creditors. In addition to filing the forms with the court, you will need to serve them (send a copy to) on the bankruptcy trustee and the affected creditors.
To learn what forms you need to file for bankruptcy and how to fill them out, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.