How to Fill Out Bankruptcy Forms

Learn about completing the official bankruptcy forms used in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

By , Attorney University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law
Updated 3/03/2022

Completing the official bankruptcy paperwork is relatively straightforward—you'll follow the easy-to-understand instructions provided at the top of each page. You'll also find instructions in the left-hand column immediately next to each question.

However, keep in mind that the forms don't explain what will happen in your bankruptcy case. Before filing, you should understand the law, including whether you'll be able to protect your property. You'll also want to know whether your debts will qualify for a discharge—the order that wipes out your obligations. If you're unsure, consult with a bankruptcy attorney.

Completing the Bankruptcy Forms

The court organized the bankruptcy forms by the type of information you'll disclose on each.

Identifying Information

The Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy form is the cover sheet for your paperwork. On it, you'll provide your name and address, as well as:

  • your social security number
  • the name of any businesses you own
  • the bankruptcy chapter you intend to file
  • how you plan to pay the filing fee
  • whether you've filed for bankruptcy within the last eight years
  • your home rental status
  • whether you own any hazardous property, and
  • whether you've completed your credit counseling course.

If you're filing a joint petition, you'll also include your spouse's information.

Your Property

You'll describe all of the property that you own on Schedule A/B: Property, including:

  • real estate
  • cars, vans, trucks, tractors, SUVs, motorcycles, and other vehicles
  • watercraft, aircraft, motor homes, and other recreational vehicles
  • personal and household items (furnishings, electronics, collectibles, sporting and hobby equipment, firearms, clothing, jewelry, pets)
  • financial assets (bank accounts, cash, retirement accounts, investments)
  • money owed to you (tax refunds, domestic support, loans, inheritance, lawsuits against other people)
  • business and business-related property, and
  • all other assets you own.

Your Exempt Property

You'll list the law that allows you to keep particular assets on Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt. You'll find the applicable law in your state's exemption statutes.

Your Collateralized Debt

When your creditor has the right to take property (collateral) if you fall behind on your payment, the debt is a secured bankruptcy claim, and you'll list it on Schedule D: Creditors Who Have Claims Secured by Property. Car loans and mortgages are two of the most common collateralized loans. Find out when a bankruptcy claim is contingent, unliquidated, or disputed.

Your Other Debt

You'll list your remaining debt on Schedule E/F: Creditors Who Have Unsecured Claims, including priority claims, such as:

  • child and spousal support
  • taxes and obligations to the government, and
  • claims for death or personal injury that occurred while you were intoxicated.

You'll also list credit card balances, medical bills, personal loans, utility bills, and any other debt you might have.

Your Contracts and Leases

If you're in a contract that hasn't expired yet—for instance, you have a gym membership or an equipment rental agreement—you likely have an executory contract or lease. You'll include it on Schedule G: Executory Contracts and Unexpired Leases.

Your Codebtors

You'll list any codebtors—individuals who must pay your debt if you fail to do so—on Schedule H: Your Codebtors. Common codebtors include car loan cosigners and joint credit cardholders.

Your Income

Schedule I: Your Income is where you disclose your income and employment information. Suppose you're married but filing for bankruptcy without your spouse. In that case, you'll include your spouse's income unless you're separated (but check with a bankruptcy attorney to be sure—this is a complicated area).

Your Expenses

On Schedule J: Your Expenses, you'll list your monthly expenditures. You'll deduct your expenses from the Schedule I net income amount to determine your monthly disposable income. Keep in mind that if you file for Chapter 7 and have significant disposable income, the judge might find you have the ability to pay your creditors something in Chapter 13.

Your Financial Affairs

You'll tell the court about your prior financial situation and transactions on the Statement of Financial Affairs for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy form. For instance, you'll disclose:

  • your gross income for the last two full years (as well as the year-to-date amount)
  • recent payments to creditors
  • active lawsuits
  • safe-deposit boxes and storage spaces
  • prior foreclosures and repossessions
  • property transfers
  • property you're borrowing or holding for someone else
  • bank account closures, and
  • business information.

Your Social Security Number

You'll provide your Social Security number on the Statement About Your Social Security Numbers form (it won't be available to the public).

Your Financial Summary

You'll tell the court about your assets, debt, income, expenses, and debt type by transferring totals from your other schedules to the Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities and Certain Statistical Information form.

Your Verification

You'll attest to the accuracy of the information provided in your forms on the Declaration About an Individual Debtor's Schedules form. Be aware that knowingly supplying incorrect information or failing to disclose fully is punishable by up to $250,000, 20 years in prison, or both.

Other Bankruptcy Forms

You'll have other forms to fill out, as well. For instance, you'll need to complete means test forms in Chapter 7 bankruptcy for qualification purposes.

Also, you'll use the Statement of Intention for Individuals Filing Under Chapter 7 form to declare whether you intend to keep property you're still paying for, such as a home or car, or whether you'll return it to the lender. Find out more about secured debts in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

For complete lists, see Forms You Must File in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Forms You Must File in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

Finding the Bankruptcy Forms

You can download fillable versions of the official bankruptcy forms on the U.S. Trustee's website. Also, many bankruptcy courts require filers to use local forms, such as a local Chapter 13 plan form. Visit your local court's website for information. You can find it using the Federal Court Finder tool.

Need More Help?

Did you know Nolo has been making the law easy for over fifty years? It's true—and we want to make sure you find what you need. Below you'll find more articles explaining how bankruptcy works. And don't forget that our bankruptcy homepage is the best place to start if you have other questions!

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Helpful Bankruptcy Sites

Department of Justice U.S. Trustee Program

United States Courts Bankruptcy Forms

We wholeheartedly encourage research and learning, but online articles can't address all bankruptcy issues or the facts of your case. The best way to protect your assets in bankruptcy is by hiring a local bankruptcy lawyer.

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