Basics of the Bankruptcy Schedules
Bankruptcy schedules aren't a timeline of how a bankruptcy will progress. They're forms, like the schedules you might add to your tax return if you have any unusual sources of income or you want to itemize your deductions. You must provide information on all aspects of your financial life on these forms, from debts, property, and income to expenses.
The schedules are a portion of the paperwork that's required to file for bankruptcy relief. They're actually a series of documents that every debtor (the person filing the bankruptcy case) prepares and submits to the bankruptcy court. Together they form a snapshot of your financial circumstances as of the day you file your case.
Bankruptcy Schedule A/B, Official Form 106 A/B, requires that you list all your real and personal property.
Real property means land, houses, and buildings. You must list the physical address of your real property, such as 123 Elm Street, Pretendville, Pretend State 55555. You must also state the value of the property and any secured claims against it. Secured claims create liens against the property, such as your mortgage.
You must state how the property is legally held. Do you have an interest in it with other individuals who aren't filing for bankruptcy? Do you have partial or less than full ownership interest in it? For example, you might have own it with someone else as joint tenants. You would each own 50% of the property in this case.
Personal property includes everything you own that isn't real estate. This doesn't end with vehicles and bank accounts. Technically, you're supposed to list every knick-knack, washcloth, and can of soup in your pantry, but it's safe to say that no one goes that far. The categories on the form guide you as to what's required.
And yes, you must include even intangible property, such as stocks and retirement plans. You must also state the value of the property.
Schedule C, Official Form 106C, is where you can claim exemptions. Federal and state laws allow you to pull specified values of certain assets out of the bankruptcy proceedings. You must write down what exemption law permits you to keep various real and personal property that you don't want to part with.
Any property of value that isn't exempted can be seized and sold by the bankruptcy trustee in a Chapter 7 proceeding.
Chapter 7 eliminates or discharges all debts after all non-exempt property is sold to pay creditors as much as possible. Chapter 13 involves entering into a court-supervised repayment plan to satisfy debts over a period of years.
It's best to consult with an attorney regarding your claims of exemption before you file this form because it can be very complicated to complete and it requires some knowledge of the law.
Schedule D, Official Form 106D, requires that you list all your creditors that hold secured claims. A secured claim is one where a creditor has a legal right to take your property if you default on the loan against it. The property acts as collateral for the loan.
For example, your mortgage company obtains a lien on your house when you purchase a home with a loan. The mortgage company has a secured claim against you. It can foreclose if you don't make your mortgage payments or comply with other terms of your mortgage contract.
You must list the creditor’s name and address, the date when the debt was incurred, the amount of the debt, and the amount of the debt that's unsecured. The unsecured portion is determined by subtracting the value of the collateral from the amount of the total debt.
Schedule E/F, Official Form 106E/F, requires that you list all your unsecured creditors. These would include credit card lenders and medical bills. Some of these creditors have priority, such as tax debts and domestic support obligations like alimony or child support. You're even required to list personal loans from friends and relatives.
Schedule G, Official Form 106G, lists all your executory contracts and unexpired leases. An executory contract is one that's partially unperformed, such as if you've paid an artist to paint your portrait, but the artist hasn't yet actually created the art. You would have a lease if you rent your home and the lease term hasn't expired yet, or if you lease your automobile.
List each unexpired contract and lease, including the names and addresses of all involved parties. You must also describe the nature of the contract or lease.
Schedule H, Official Form 106H, lists any co-debtors that have joint obligations with you for certain debts. List any other individuals or companies that are also liable on any of the debt that you have listed in your schedules. For example, you would list your spouse as a co-debtor if they're liable on any of your debts and only you are filing for bankruptcy. You would list your co-signer if a family member helped you out by co-signing on a loan with you.
Schedule I, Official Form 106I, sets forth all your sources of income. You must also include your spouse's income if you're married, even if they're not filing for bankruptcy with you. This doesn't stop at wages, salary, or tips. You should also include any self-employment or business income you might have, investment income, alimony or child support you receive, unemployment compensation, and even Social Security benefits.
Schedule J, Official Form 106J, is where you'll list all your monthly expenses, including rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, insurance, childcare costs, child support, alimony, and transportation. Pretty much anything you regularly spend your money on must be cited here.
Statement of Financial Affairs and the Means Test
Statement of Financial Affairs, Official Form 107, and other forms, like the "Means Test" aren't schedules, but they're integral to filing for bankruptcy relief all the same. The Statement of Financial Affairs is a list of questions that cover your financial dealings over the period the last two years, including whether you've transferred any property, suffered losses, hold any bank accounts or safe deposit boxes, your marital status, and any lawsuits you've been engaged in.
The "Means Test" is a calculation that compares your income and expenses to others in your state based on family size. It determines if you qualify for a Chapter 7 "straight" bankruptcy where your debts will be discharged, or if you have sufficient disposable income to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition instead and pay your debts over time.
Your local bankruptcy court might have additional forms for you to file.