Something big happened this month in the bankruptcy universe. The official forms provided by the United States Bankruptcy Court completely changed as of December 1, 2015.
Unlike official forms in other types of legal proceedings, these bankruptcy forms — often called the “petition and schedules” — are mandatory for all bankruptcy filers. Said another way, it is not possible to declare bankruptcy without using the official forms provided by the Court.
The folks who control what the forms look like have been working for a number of years to modernize the paperwork. For the most part, the content and questions of the forms have not drastically changed. Instead, changes are related to formatting and wording. The court also has separate forms for individual bankruptcy filers and corporate bankruptcy filers. The form numbers have changed as well.
The most obvious change people will notice is that a standard Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition is now much, much longer. Because of formatting changes, a typical bankruptcy will have an additional 10-15 pages of paper — maybe even more.
Most bankruptcy law firms utilize software that allows for the efficient production of the bankruptcy forms. I use “BestCase” here in my office. The software translates the data that I provide and places it in the appropriate spots on the bankruptcy forms. Pro se individuals can download forms bundles from the Bankruptcy Court that allow you to enter data directly onto the forms — but calculations are not done for you.
Don’t be caught off guard. If you are filing your own bankruptcy, from here on out you must use the new bankruptcy forms. The old forms are considered invalid and may not be accepted for filing by the clerk of the bankruptcy court. This is especially important if you are rushing to file to stop a garnishment or foreclosure — using the wrong forms could have disastrous results.
If you are filing for bankruptcy in the Sacramento area, you should call my office. I represent bankruptcy filers for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 and can guide you through the process step by step. You can reach me at (916) 333-2222.