You may have thought that making the decision to file for bankruptcy protection was the hard part of the process. After all, you make a valiant effort to meet your financial obligations, but they simply got out of control. You haven’t had a moment’s peace since you became unable to pay some or all of your bills, and debt collection efforts don’t make it any easier.

When you decided to take advantage of this debt relief option, you had no idea the amount of information and paperwork that goes into it. This stems from the fact that the court wants to know as much about your financial situation as possible in order to determine whether to grant you a discharge. If you fail to provide everything, the court could dismiss the case.

The schedules are a critical part of the process

A good portion of the paperwork you will fill out when you file for bankruptcy includes the schedules. This is where you lay out your financial life for the court. Below is a brief outline of the schedules and what they include:

  • In Schedules A and B, you let the court know, in detail, what real and personal property you own. You also need to provide a value for each asset that is as accurate as possible.
  • In Schedule C, you tell the court what property you believe falls within the exemptions allowed under either federal or New York law. You may retain property up to a certain amount, but the trustee could sell property valued over the exemption amount to pay your creditors.
  • In Schedule D, you tell the court which of your creditors hold secured claims. For example, your mortgage loan lender and your auto lender fall into this category.
  • In Schedules E and F, you list creditors who don’t have secured claims, including those who — by law — have priority over others. Non-priority creditors include medical providers and credit card companies, while those with priority include domestic support obligations (child support and alimony), student loans and taxes.
  • In Schedule G, you list any leases or contracts that haven’t expired to which you are a party.
  • In Schedule H, you list co-debtors. These include people or entities that are also liable for debts you listed in your schedules.
  • In Schedules I and J, you list your income and your monthly expenses, respectively.

You also need to include a Statement of Financial Affairs, your means test and other documents the court requires you to file. As you can see, filing for bankruptcy includes a lot of paperwork, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from filing. Instead, you could make use of the legal resources in your area to help ensure that you provide all of the information the court needs in order to give you a fresh start financially.