What Is a Bankruptcy Petition?

Learn about the official form filed to start a bankruptcy case.

A bankruptcy petition is an official form that initiates a  bankruptcy  case in federal court. An individual or business can voluntarily file a bankruptcy petition, or creditors can force a person or company into an  involuntary bankruptcy.

The initiating party will use one of four bankruptcy petition forms to start the case.

  • Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy
  • Involuntary Petition Against an Individual
  • Voluntary Petition for Non-Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy
  • Involuntary Petition Against a Non-Individual

On the petition, the filer will provide identifying information about the  debtor  and will indicate the type of bankruptcy chapter being filed. In a voluntary, individual matter (the most frequently filed type of case), the petition questions solicit information about whether the debtor:

  • rents a residence
  • is a sole proprietor
  • has any hazardous property in need of attention
  • has satisfied the credit counseling requirement, and
  • has  primarily consumer debts  or  business debts.

The debtor will also include an estimate of the number of creditors owed, as well as an estimate of the debtor’s assets and debts.

(If you’d like more information about preparing the petition, read  Completing the Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy.)

Additional forms called “schedules” must be filed, as well. On these forms, the filer will list the debtor’s income, assets, debts, and previous transactions. If the schedules aren’t filed along with the petition, or shortly after that, the court will dismiss the case.

(Fillable versions of the official bankruptcy forms can be downloaded from the forms section of the  U.S. Court website.)

 

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