After you file bankruptcy and after you receive discharge, you may need copies of your paperwork. Lenders, such as mortgage companies, want to review your bankruptcy petition, schedules, and related documents before they issue you new credit. You may also need copies of your discharge to show creditors who want proof of your filing.
There are various pieces of paperwork that you will want to hold on to. The first is your Petition and Schedules. These are the documents that list your personal information, creditors, property, and income. Usually you get copies from your attorney after you sign them. Your attorney might also send them to you electronically once your case is filed.
The second document you will receive comes after your case is filed with the Bankruptcy Court. This document is called the Notice of Commencement or Notice of Bankruptcy Case. This form is completed by the court and sent electronically and by mail to all parties involved, even your creditors. This form has information about your meeting of creditors date and provides some basic information about your case. You should get a copy of this in the mail. Your attorney might send you one as well.
The third document you will receive in your case comes at the very end. The Order of Discharge is a Court decree stating you don't have to pay back the debts it specifies. Just like the notice of Bankruptcy, the court sends this one by mail. Your attorney may also provide a copy when received.
After your bankruptcy concludes, you will want to hold on to your paperwork for at least 10 years. The best way to keep copies is to scan or take photos of the paperwork and save them on your computer or online account. You can also keep them in a safe deposit box. Depending on your attorney's file retention policy, they may only have your paperwork for 3 years. They may also charge a substantial fee to get copies (per page copies).
So, what happens if you lose your copies? You can always ask your attorney for copies, but if they don't have your file anymore, or don't want to pay their fees, you have some other options.
You can get copies by contacting the clerk of the bankruptcy court where your case was filed. If you filed in St. Louis, Missouri or the surrounding cities, contact the Bankruptcy Clerk for the Eastern District of Missouri at http://www.moeb.uscourts.gov/. The clerk will charge a fee for searching the court records, and there will be additional fees for making and certifying copies. If the case has been closed and archived there will also be a retrieval fee, and obtaining the copy will take longer.
The discharge order may be available electronically. The PACER system provides the public with electronic access to selected case information through a personal computer located in many clerk's offices. You can also access PACER at home at https://pcl.uscourts.gov/pcl/index.jsf. You must set up an account to get access to PACER and pay a per-page fee to download and copy documents filed electronically.
You can also get copies through the National Archives. They have an order form available at https://www.archives.gov/files/research/court-records/form-90.pdf . The government's electronic access may be cheaper than your attorney's office. Contact them fore details.
Keep your paperwork handy, you never know when it might be needed. If you lose your paperwork, there are plenty of resources available to get a copy for a small fee.
Since 1997, the St. Louis attorneys at The Law Office of Tracy A. Brown, P.C., have helped thousands in Saint Louis stop creditors from harassing, garnishing, and threatening clients through Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings that alleviate excessive debt. Contact us today to free your future from your past.