bankruptcy

How Long Does It Take To File Bankruptcy

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.

Do I Have to Attend the Creditor Lawsuit Filed Against Me?

This is a common question I am asked the first time I speak to a new client. They have been sued by a creditor, usually on an old credit card debt or car repossession, and the paperwork the sheriff has served on them mentions a hearing date and time. Not surprisingly, this is a major concern.

We are conditioned to believe that not showing up to a hearing will have big, important, negative repercussions. In most cases this is true. When you don't show up to a court hearing, the judge will automatically rule against you and/or find you in contempt of court. In almost every situation, it is advisable to appear at a court action you are served with, and in most cases it is advisable to retain a lawyer.

Whether or not you should appear at a creditor lawsuit related to a debt will depend on one question... are you filing a bankruptcy? If the answer is "yes", you will probably NOT appear at the creditor lawsuit held at the Court of Common Pleas or magistrate level. Why is this seemingly negligent course prudent? It's alright not to show up when you are filing a bankruptcy because the bankruptcy will discharge the the underlying debt to the lawsuit. There is no reason to waste your time or pay a costly legal bill and have an attorney appear when the default judgment will be discarded anyways by the Bankruptcy Court. The automatic stay will stop the lawsuit, and the bankruptcy discharge will eliminate the lawsuit. The court will not hold you in contempt, as this is the normal practice.

Now, if for any reason, the debt related to the creditor lawsuit will NOT be included in the bankruptcy, you should be prepared to answer the lawsuit and appear in Court.

Contact us if you have been sued by a creditor on a debt. You should act as quickly as possible, as you only have 30 days to respond to the lawsuit in writing after you have been served, or the Court will cancel the hearing date and rule against you WITHOUT A HEARING. Yes, you read that correctly.

Call my office to speak to an experienced Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney who can explain your rights to you and determine if bankruptcy is an option. It will be possible to file a bankruptcy even after the lawsuit has become a judgment, so it's never too late. You will need to do something about the judgment, because it will be good for 20 years, and may result in the loss of your home, car, bank account, or personal property.

Call sooner, not later...