A Helpful Guide When Considering Filing Bankruptcy

You have decided to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, or you are considering it.

You should know you must provide certain information to your lawyer. Also, you must provide documents.

The following is a shorthand list of what is needed.

  1. Pay advises for the last 60 days. For most, these are paystubs.
  2. Driver’s license or State ID and your Social security card.
  3. List your debts. Many lawyers pull your free credit report. I know our firm provides this service.
  4. A list of your property.
  5. All court documents such as foreclosure, judgments, liens, garnishments, etc.
  6. Do you have parking tickets? Do you owe money to the Illinois Tollway Authority?
  7. Your tax returns. For Chapter 7, the previous two (2) years. For Chapter 13, the previous four (4) years.
  8. Before a case can be filed, you must do credit counseling. The credit counseling, we recommend, only costs $9.76. Also, they send the certificate to our office.

More detail


  • I didn’t work the past 60 days or only worked some of the time. We can draft a declaration for the missing dates.
  • If you are receiving Social Security, a Pension, or Unemployment, we need proof of such. 
  • You are married and living with your spouse, but only you are filing. We need some evidence of your spouse’s income if any.
  • Your income is erratic (seasonality; overtime for a short period, bonuses, etc.). More detail may be needed.
  • Self-employed individuals will have to provide their income and business expenses.


For undocumented clients, we can substitute an ITIN or an EIN card.


Some debts are not on credit reports. The following are some examples.

  • Tax debts (IRS, state tax taxes, real estate taxes, water bills, back utilities).
  • Pending lawsuits where you are the defendant. 
  • Back Child support debts.
  • Parking tickets and tollway authority.
  • A lot of medical bills, especially recent medical bills
  • Back rent.


  • You own real estate, such as a house. It must be listed. Then determine its market value and liens against it. 
  • The same for cars.
  • Furniture is normally listed by room and other household goods. Electronics and appliances must be listed. 
  • Personal Injury cases. A typical example is you were hurt in an automobile accident and have filed a lawsuit or can file a lawsuit.
  • Workers’ Compensation case. While a WC case is exempt, you must list it.


It is helpful that you give them to your lawyer.


  1. I am not required to file income taxes returns for one or more years. Then, a Declaration can be substituted.  I only receive Social Security or a small amount of Unemployment.
  2. I did not work for one or more years.
  3. I don’t have copies of my IRS returns: follow this link to order them in seconds: https://sa.www4.irs.gov/irfof-tra/login
  4. I did not file because I didn’t get around to it or I owed money. Not good enough. Even if you get a lawyer to file your case, the court will soon dismiss it. You will have wasted your money and time. File your taxes even if you owe money.


The law is clear. Before a case can be filed, you must get a certificate of credit counseling. 

Also, a credit counseling certificate is good for 180 days.

It will be dismissed if you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 without having a certificate dated before the filing date.


Does the above cover 100% of all situations? No. I would estimate that it covers 95-99% of individual situations. It is always wise to talk to a lawyer experienced in Bankruptcy law.

Scroll to Top