Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an excellent tool for wiping out debt, especially when it comes to credit cards and medical debt. But who exactly are your creditors? How much do you owe each one? How can I find a good mailing address for my creditors? These are common concerns that we assist clients with frequently and below are some helpful Chapter 7 bankruptcy preparation tips to help you get started and on your way towards a fresh start.
Before starting your bankruptcy prepwork, it is important to remember that before a creditor can be dealt with, it must first be listed within your bankruptcy petition.
When listing your creditors you will want to have the following information:
- Creditor name and address (use recent bills in your mail, credit reports & Google)
- Account number (partial account number can sometimes work too)
- Estimated amount of debt owed (best guess, look at recent bills & credit reports)
- Approximately what year did you open the account or incur the debt?
- Is there a co-debtor? (name and address)
- What is the debt? (collections, credit card, medical, auto loan, etc.)
- Any other helpful information for your attorney? (lawsuits, calls, threats, etc.)
- Names and addresses of any child support agencies and obligees
Now that we know what to look for, let’s start gathering some documents. Your Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney can take care of most paperwork and translate your bills into an organized bankruptcy listing. But again, you are the sole source of this information as your attorney won’t know where you have been over the years. So let’s be thorough and as accurate as possible. Remember all of this information is to the best of your knowledge, nobody is perfect and in some cases you may be able to add missed creditors via amendment for a nominal fee.
15 Best Practices when preparing a list of your bankruptcy creditors:
- Pull your free credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com
- Gather your loose bills, collection letters, lawsuits, and similar papers at home.
- Start a “debt journal” List people/places that you owe, but don’t have papers.
- Consider prior residences. (landlords, utilities, association fees, etc.)
- Utilities and Communications (gas, electric, trash, water, cable, cell phones, etc.)
- Medical (hospitals, urgent care, physicians, dentists, therapists, labs, ambulance)
- Taxes (IRS, state, city, school district, RITA)
- Student loans (be sure to tell your attorney if your student loans are in deferment)
- Domestic Support (child support, spousal support, property settlements)
- Ohio BMV (list parties relevant to a license suspension or accident lawsuit)
- Collections (try to determine who they are collecting for)
- Banks (negative accounts, overdraft fees, NSF fees, signature loans)
- Secured debts (car loans, mortgages, motorcycle loans, other secured loans)
- Pay Day Loans (Search Google for current addresses; include date of loan)
- Others (foreclosures, vehicle repossessions, private loans, court fines, etc.)
Yes, gathering a complete listing of your bankruptcy creditors can seem like a daunting task, but take heart as following the above best practices will maximize your results. Remember that you are the best source of knowledge when it comes to your personal creditor listing. Be thorough and be confident. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy it is always ok to overlist creditors, but it can be costly when creditors are omitted or have bad mailing addresses. You got this!
Related Links to Credit Reports: