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Getting Started

Bankruptcy Information & Documents Needed from Prospective Clients

All potential new clients coming in for a consultation or who have already decided to retain our firm to file their bankruptcy petition should bring in the following information and documents so that Mr. Alster can provide definite answers to all questions from prospective client(s) concerning their qualification for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 protection and so that we may proceed as quickly and smoothly as possible.

PROOF OF LAST SIX (6) MONTHS INCOME: Debtor(s) must provide proof of all income (from any source) for the six (6) months preceding the month that the debtor(s) petition is filed with the Bankruptcy Court. We need proof of the last six (6) months gross income for the debtor and their spouse, prior to our filing the bankruptcy petition when both spouses are living together. This is the case regardless of whether or not a joint petition is being filed.

CURRENT AND PAST INCOME: All debtor(s) must indicate the gross income earned during the last two (2) calendar years and for the current calendar year to date. Copies of debtor(s) two (2) most recent tax returns including all W-2(s) and/or 1099(s) would have this information. Debtor(s) should also provide copies of their most recently filed federal and state income tax returns, either at the time or shortly after their petition is filed. Debtor(s) must also certify in their bankruptcy petition that they have filed their federal and state tax returns for the last four (4) calendar years.

It is helpful for debtor(s) to fill out and bring Schedule - I with them to their initial consultation which includes debtor(s) current projected average monthly income.

REAL ESTATE: For all debtor(s) who own or owned real estate or any other significant assets within the last two years, it is absolutely necessary for the prospective client(s) to know the appropriate average/reasonable fair market value of the real estate or other significant asset(s) (such as a business, luxury vehicle etc.) so that Mr. Alster can determine how much equity, if any, the prospective client(s) have in the asset. Often times the only significant asset that prospective client(s) do own is their residence; prospective client(s) should bring in the following documents for each parcel of real estate:

  1. Most recent appraisal, performed on the property (preferably less than 2 years old). If prospective client(s) do not have a recent appraisal, a real estate broker's price opinion (also known as a "BPO") will also suffice; a BPO is simply a letter from a realtor whereat the realtor gives their opinion as to the average range of the fair market value of the subject real estate. Most Trustee's will not accept real estate tax bills or assessments as proof of the fair market value of the subject property, as such prospective client(s) should not base their opinion as to the value of their real estate based solely on a municipal tax assessment.
  2. If the property was bought or sold within the last two (2) years, a copy of HUD-1 settlement sheet also known as the RESPA indicating where and how the mortgage proceeds were spent;
  3. Payoff statements for all open mortgages indicating the total amount owed and the amount owed for all arrearages on each mortgage lien and for any other lien (such as Judgment, tax liens) placed against the property;
  4. Proof of ownership, which is copies of all deeds through which prospective client(s) took title to the property.

LAWSUITS: Copies of the complaint and/or judgment (if entered), and any other more recent documents filed with the Court such as wage executions, post-judgment motions applying for and/or orders levying on debtor(s) assets.

AVERAGE MONTHLY EXPENSES: It is helpful for all potential clients to fill out and bring with them for their initial consultation the attached Schedule J, which is an itemized list of the debtor(s) and debtor(s) immediate family's average monthly expenses. All actual expenses being paid, as well as debtor families reasonable needs (even if debtor(s) have been and/or are unable to pay for same) should be included in Schedule J.

CREDITORS: Names, addresses, account numbers and balances due to all unsecured and secured creditors (secured creditors include, but are not limited to, leases, taxes, automobile loans and mortgages). The most recent statements or a recent letter from the creditor or an agent for the creditor is required pursuant to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code so that the creditor is notified at their proper address.

If prospective client(s) are not sure of the identities of their creditors, including the identities of all/any assignees who may have purchased some of the client(s) debt, we recommend that they order and/or obtain free credit report(s) online from one or more of the three (3) national credit reporting agencies. Although we can order summaries of the clients 3 credit reports from our office, (there is no charge for this if we are retained), it is very helpful to both us and prospective client(s) if the account number and the identities of all creditors are known when the clients come in for their initial consultations. Following are the links to the reporting agencies website.

Please note that all of the credit reporting agencies must offer one (1) free credit report to consumers every 12 months. One such site that you can visit is: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp

FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS/ASSETS: Names, account numbers and balances of all financial accounts, including, but not limited to, checking, savings, stock brokerage and retirement accounts. All financial accounts closed during the last twelve (12) months must be listed, including the address, account number and amount on the last statement before the account was closed.

Call or contact us today to get on the road to a "fresh" financial start.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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The Law Office of Marc G. Alster - Hackensack Bankruptcy Attorney
Located at 2 University Plaza Drive, #311, Hackensack, NJ 07601.
Phone: (201) 878-4630.
Local: (201) 883-1190.
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