What *Aren’t* the Requirements to File for Bankruptcy?

by Brett Weiss, Esq.

April 25, 2007

A number of blogs discuss the requirements you must meet before you can file for bankruptcy. But what are some the requirements that don’t exist?

1. You don’t have to be a US citizen. The Bankruptcy Code imposes no citizenship requirement on bankruptcy filers.

2. You don’t have to live in the US to file. I have filed many cases for people who live outside the US to deal with their US debt.

3. You don’t have to be in the US legally. There is no requirement in the Code that you have to have legal status in the US.

4. You don’t have to be eligible to vote. This means that even felons can file (and many incarcerated prisoners do file).

5. You don’t have to have a Social Security Number. The Code doesn’t require that you have one as a condition of filing.

6. You don’t even have to be an adult. Ive filed Chapter 13s for a 10 year old orphan, and a 10 month old infant (just last year), and got both plans confirmed.

7. You don’t have to have a certain amount of debt. Technically, you could file for bankruptcy if you had $1.00 of debt. It would be a pretty dumb thing to do, but there is no prohibition in the Code against it.

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Brett Weiss, a senior partner at Chung & Press, LLC, represents people and businesses in all phases of bankruptcy. He has experience in complex individual Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, and in Chapter 11 small business restructuring and reorganization. Mr. Weiss lectures nationally on bankruptcy issues. He has testified before the Federal Bankruptcy Rules Committee, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and has twice testified before Congress on bankruptcy and credit issues. Brett Weiss is the co-author of Chapter 11 for Individual Debtors, and has written Not Dead Yet: Bankruptcy After BAPCPA, for the Maryland Bar Journal, as well as hundreds of blogs for the Bankruptcy Law Network. With his law partner, he recorded a 13-hour basic bankruptcy training series, and leads intensive three-day Chapter 11 training boot camps. Mr. Weiss has received international media attention in connection with his work. He was interviewed by Barbara Walters on The View, has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC News with Peter Jennings, the Montel Williams Show, National Public Radio, AARP-TV, the BBC World Service, German state television, and numerous local radio and television programs, and been quoted in Money magazine, The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun, among others. Brett Weiss is the Maryland State Chair for the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, a founding member of the Bankruptcy Law Network, on the board of the Maryland State Bar Consumer Bankruptcy Council, and a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute, the Bankruptcy Bar Association of Maryland, and the Civil Justice Network. He has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” every year since 2007 for Maryland and the District of Columbia, and in 2011 received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys for his work on behalf of consumers across the country. Mr. Weiss is admitted to practice before Maryland and District of Columbia federal and state courts, the United States Courts of Appeals for the DC, Fourth and Eighth Circuits, The United States Tax Court, and the Supreme Court of the United States, and has been practicing law since 1983.

Last modified: April 27, 2011