Receiving the discharge letter after navigating the bankruptcy process can bring a great feeling of relief. After all, the discharge of your debts is the goal, so you can obtain a fresh start.
However, even when you obtain a discharge, there are a few more steps you must take. One step that you should not overlook involves collecting all of the documents you amassed during the bankruptcy process and organizing them for safekeeping.
Compile a file for your records
Even after you receive a discharge of your debts, it is often in your best interest to keep a file containing all of the documents from your bankruptcy case.
This file should generally include:
- A copy of your bankruptcy filing
- Copies of the documents in your bankruptcy petition
- Your certificates of completion for credit counseling
- A copy of the repayment plan, if you filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy
- A comprehensive list of the creditors
- Any correspondence with creditors
- Any notices you received from the court
- Billing statements
- Bank and credit card statements
- Your bankruptcy discharge
This list does not encompass all of the documents you should keep, though these are some of the most important ones. It is beneficial to keep any financial documents or information related to your bankruptcy.
Why is it important to keep these documents?
While New Mexico and federal laws do not require you to keep your bankruptcy documents, there are a few critical reasons why you should:
- Confirm discharges: Keeping your records on hand allows you to ensure repaid or discharged debts reflect accurately in your financial accounts.
- Prove discharges to creditors: Some debt collectors or creditors might reach out again for payments, even after you receive a discharge. If you have your bankruptcy and discharge documents readily available, you can establish that debt has been paid or discharged and avoid complex situations.
- Provide evidence of bankruptcy: In some cases, lenders and other financial organizations might want proof or documentation of your bankruptcy filing and discharge. This is common when individuals apply for loans or mortgages after bankruptcy.
If you have an organized file at your disposal, you can navigate these situations efficiently.
How long should you hold onto records?
Essentially, you should keep bankruptcy files forever.
Even if you no longer need them years after you received your discharge and a new financial start, it is a good idea to hold onto them as evidence of your bankruptcy and debt relief.