It is still necessary for you to sign your bankruptcy petition even in the era of electronic case filing. In its infinite wisdom, congress decided that you must sign an original bankruptcy petition. That signed petition is not filed with the court. We call this the wet signature. Since I have unlimited space, and don’t have anything else to do with it, congress decided that the best place to store your wet signed bankruptcy petition is in the office of your bankruptcy attorney.
I actually schedule an appointment to meet with you to review the entire bankruptcy petition for accuracy. When you come in I will need the following documents, yes more documents, it seems to never end:
1. Government issued photo id. Politically correct term for drivers license or state id card.
2. Social security card, or recent W-2 or 1099 from your tax return with you social security number.
3. Statements from all bank accounts for the past 90 days, including a printout with the balances on the date of your signing appointment.
4. Any pay stubs you have received up to the date of your appointment that you have not yet provided.
The photo id and proof of social security number are actually required for your meeting of creditors. You can not imagine how many clients forget these things in spite of numerous reminders to bring them. I want them to be part of my file so we can lessen the possibility of the trustee adjourning the meeting of creditors to another date. Help me here, I’m trying to save you money and time.
In a previous life when I was trying to be the least expensive bankruptcy attorney around, I would flag the petition at each place you needed to sign. I would put you in a room and tell you to go through it, sign where there is a flag, and make a list of anything that was wrong. The result? Hardly anyone read anything. They just signed each flagged line skipping everything in between. This was usually okay. In some cases things had changed since the consultation and the bankruptcy petition was plain wrong.
Things are different now. You, and your spouse if it is a joint bankruptcy petition, will sit with me in my office. There will be no interruptions. We will go over each and every line on your bankruptcy petition. The wet copy becomes even wetter. You will initial each and every page that does not require you to sign. If there is a change you will note it on the petition, and at the same time I will correct on my computer which will be uploaded to the court during filing.
When we are done with the bankruptcy petition singing appointment, We will have a wet copy that is as accurate as possible and a computer version which is identical. Depending the situation, I will either file bankruptcy for you while you are sitting in front of me, or later if I have other signing appointment that same date.
For many clients, this appointment is the first time they actually see the amount of work that goes into filing bankruptcy. Many comment that I should be charging more. It’s nice to hear, but I haven’t listened yet.
Picture sold at istockphoto. Picture by cruphoto.