Prospective clients often ask me, "how long does it take to file a bankruptcy?" It's a reasonable question, but impossible to answer definitively because it involves numerous factors. I will often respond to the question by asking a question of my own, "how long will it take for you to get me everything I need?"
The first factor is collecting all of the necessary paperwork and documentation. At a minimum, my clients must get me the following information:
- 6 months of paystubs
- 2 years of tax returns and W2s
- Retirement account information
- Lawsuit information
- Information about your home, such as amount owed on the mortgage, tax status, and appraised values
- a monthly budget
- bills and debts not listed in the credit report.
This information is all necessary to file a bankruptcy, and must be provided, compiled, and organized in your bankruptcy petition. Sometimes tax transcripts or appraisals must be ordered. Sometimes it is difficult to compile paystubs. In any case, it often takes awhile to collect everything.
Next, all bankruptcy filers must complete a pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course. This course can be completed over the phone or internet (you don't need to leave your living room) and only takes an hour or two to complete. But, I cannot file until it is completed, even if all of the above-mention paperwork is available. Clients are sometimes slow to complete this course, and it will always hold up the bankruptcy filing.
Finally, I need to be paid before I can file. I have many clients paying through flexible payment plans, however, the case cannot be filed before the final payment (otherwise, the legal fees are discharged with the rest of the debt). I never pressure my clients for payment, I know they want to file their case more badly than I want to get paid. If it takes awhile, then it takes awhile... I'm not going anywhere.
So, how long does it take to file a bankruptcy? I have some clients who are very prepared, ready to do the classes, and able to pay the costs and fees who file only days after meeting me. Some clients, on the other hand, are on payment plans that range over a year. The answer to the question usually somewhere in between. In depends on circumstance.
Regardless of whether it will take a day or a year, I represent my clients with the same vigor. Contact us to set up a free consultation and see if you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Given you situation, I will be happy to estimate how long the process will take for you.