When you file for bankruptcy, you're required to disclose information about your income, expenses, assets, and debts on official bankruptcy forms called "schedules." After completing the schedules, you'll declare under penalty of perjury that all of the information contained in them is true and correct by signing the Declaration About an Individual Debtor's Schedules. Also, the declaration contains instructions for spouses, warns against committing bankruptcy fraud, and requires you to list the name of anyone you paid to assist you with your bankruptcy forms, other than an attorney.
(To learn about filling out other bankruptcy forms, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.)
The ability to wipe out debts by filing bankruptcy helps many individuals and families get out from under difficult financial situations. But it negatively impacts your creditors. The law strikes a balance between your needs and the needs of your creditors by allowing you to keep enough income and property to maintain a modest lifestyle, but no more. Anything over that amount is distributed to your creditors to help offset the financial loss. Therefore, if you hide property or misrepresent your income, you're essentially stealing from your creditors in violation of the law. When you sign the Declaration About an Individual Debtor's Schedules, you are declaring that you conscientiously filled out your forms and that the information in your schedules is true and correct.
The form includes easy-to-understand instructions so it is simple to complete. You should be aware that when a married couple files bankruptcy, each spouse is equally responsible for understanding the contents of the petition. The court will not allow one spouse to later claim not to understand what was signed.
Also, the court does not tolerate fraudulent bankruptcy filings. Examples of fraud might include knowingly failing to list an employer, or "forgetting" to list a house you own in another state. The bankruptcy trustee—the person responsible for reviewing your petition for accuracy—can investigate such things, and is good at spotting misconduct. Plus, getting caught comes with a hefty price tag. If found guilty, the consequences range from a fine of up to $250,000, imprisonment for up to 20 years, or both.
You must also disclose the name of anyone who helped you put together your petition for a fee (other than a lawyer). You do so by checking the "Yes" box and filling in the bankruptcy preparer's name in the space provided. You'll also need to file a completed Bankruptcy Petition Preparer's Notice, Declaration, and Signature form along with your paperwork.
You can get the most recent fillable, downloadable version of the Declaration About an Individual Debtor's Schedules on the U.S. Court's website at www.uscourts.gov/forms/bankruptcy-forms.