Once you determine that bankruptcy is the right step for you, you can begin the process of filing.

Preparing to file

The first step in any bankruptcy filing is to make sure you have all the necessary information. You will have to fill out a number of bankruptcy forms that will ask you detailed questions about your property. In order to properly answer the questions on the forms, you must know exactly what property you own, exactly what debts you have and whether any of the property you own is exempt.

Choosing the right bankruptcy chapter

Gathering together all the information about your property may also help you decide which bankruptcy chapter to file. If have a lot of non-exempt property, you may want to file for Chapter 13. If most of your property is exempt, Chapter 7 may be a better option.

Getting help

Filing for bankruptcy can be a complicated process. You may need help. The bankruptcy court in your municipality can help you file your claim, as can a lawyer.

Should you and your spouse file jointly?

If you are married, you must decide whether to file jointly. This will depend on how much joint debt and property you and your spouse have. In general, the more joint debt and property you have, the better off you will be with a joint filing.

Timing the bankruptcy petition

Once you figure out the chapter you want to file under, you still may not want to file right away. It may be more prudent to wait and file the petition when it is most beneficial to you.

Filing the papers

Once you’ve chosen the bankruptcy chapter, you can file a bankruptcy petition. This gets the process moving. The process varies depending on whether you file for Chapter 7, 11 or 13.

Reestablishing your credit

After the bankruptcy proceeding is over, you need to start reestablishing good credit. There are a number of steps you can take to do this, including financing a purchase through “poor-risk” merchants, getting department store and gas credit cards and using “secured” credit cards.