Sometimes you need to stop a creditor’s action fast. Filing for bankruptcy can help. When you open a case, the court puts an automatic stay in place that prohibits most creditors from continuing collection actions against you (exceptions exist). But, completing all the forms isn’t a quick process. If time is running short, you can use a fast online bankruptcy filing process known as an emergency bankruptcy filing (or skeleton filing), get the automatic stay in place, and submit the remaining documents later.
Filing Emergency Bankruptcy Forms Online
The average bankruptcy petition can easily consist of upwards of fifty pages once completed. But when you’re facing a foreclosure auction, repossession, wage garnishment, collection lawsuit, or another time-sensitive situation, getting all of the paperwork done might not be feasible.
You have another option.
When you need to file a quick bankruptcy, you can get your bankruptcy forms filed online fast. Plus, you can access online filing at any time of the day, any day of the week, and start the online filing process by uploading only a small percentage of the required forms:
• the bankruptcy petition (the primary document containing identifying information, the chapter you’re filing, and other general information)
• the names and addresses of the creditors that will be listed in the bankruptcy schedules (often referred to as a creditor mailing list or mailing matrix—check with your court for format requirements)
• a certificate showing that you completed the credit counseling requirement or a request for a waiver, and
• Form B121 Your Statement About Your Social Security Numbers.
You’ll also want to prepare to pay a filing fee, submit a request for a fee waiver, or a request to pay the fee in installments.
Finalizing a Skeleton Bankruptcy Filing
If you don’t file the additional documents within 14 days, your skeleton bankruptcy case will be dismissed. Also, be aware that some courts require other forms. You’ll find the requirements in the local rules posted on your court’s website.
Steps in an Emergency Bankruptcy Filing
For an emergency filing, you’ll want to follow these steps:
Step 1: Check with the court clerk or the court’s website to find out exactly what forms you must submit for an emergency filing.
Step 2: Fill in the Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy.
Step 3: On the list of creditors, you’ll include the names and addresses of everyone you owe money to, as well as collection agencies, sheriffs, attorneys, and others who are seeking to collect debts from you. You’ll want to use the address on the most recent billing statement or court filing.
Step 4: Fill in Your Statement about Your Social Security Numbers form.
Step 5: Complete any other papers the court requires (for instance, in some jurisdictions you must file a cover sheet and an order of dismissal that will be executed if you fail to submit the remaining documents).
Step 6: File the originals and the required number of copies with the court clerk, accompanied by your fee, a fee waiver application, or a request to pay the fee in installments, along with a self-addressed envelope. Keep copies for your records.
Step 7: File the remaining required forms within 14 days to avoid dismissal of your case.
Emergency Circumstances in Bankruptcy
It is rarely a good idea to file an emergency bankruptcy if you can avoid it. Bankruptcies are paper-intensive, and bankruptcy law requires you to fully, accurately, and honestly disclose all of your assets, debts, income, expense, and various financial information.
Filing a petition also triggers deadlines you’ll be required to meet. If you file a bankruptcy too hastily, you might make mistakes that could cause you difficulty later, including the dismissal of your case or a denial of your bankruptcy discharge. There are even criminal penalties if the court finds you were intentionally evasive or less-than-truthful in your statements and paperwork.
However, you might not be able to avoid filing an emergency bankruptcy petition. An emergency petition can help prevent the following:
the sale of your home through foreclosure
When you file for bankruptcy, the court puts in place the “automatic stay.” The automatic stay is an order that prevents most creditors from moving forward with collection actions against you. Keep in mind that the stay will be temporary when it comes to foreclosure, repossession, and evictions in Chapter 7. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy doesn’t have a mechanism to fix those problems. In Chapter 13, you can catch up on delinquent mortgage and car payments if you can afford it. You might be able to fix an eviction if you can bring your payments current in a reasonable period (which is shorter than most people need).
Filing Requirements for an Emergency Petition
An average bankruptcy filing can contain 50 or more pages of documents that list all of your assets, debts, income, expenses, and detailed statements concerning your financial history. Sometimes you don’t have the time to complete all of the necessary paperwork. Here is a basic breakdown of the minimum that you must complete, sign, and file to start your bankruptcy case.
The following documents are the minimum that you must file to start your Chapter 7 case (often called the skeleton petition):
The bankruptcy petition. The first document includes identifying information and tells the court which bankruptcy chapter you intend to file.
Creditor matrix or mailing list. You’ll include a list of the names and addresses of all your known creditors. Some courts might let you file it a few days later. Your local bankruptcy court dictates the format of this form. Look for details on your court’s website or call the court clerk. You can find your court’s website using the Federal Court Finder tool.
Statement of Social Security Number. You’ll provide your Social Security number on a separate form that the court will not make public.
Certificate of credit counseling. You’re required to receive credit counseling during the 180 days before filing, with few exceptions. Some bankruptcy courts may also have additional requirements, such as written disclosure statements or electronic copies of your documents.
Notifying Creditors about the Emergency Bankruptcy
You likely need to stop a collection proceeding if you’re using this process. You can’t depend on the court to alert your creditors. Why? It the court clerk about a week to send out a notice of bankruptcy.
Here’s what you do: You or your attorney should immediately send notice of your bankruptcy filing directly to the creditor if you need to stop a foreclosure, repossession, wage garnishment, lawsuit proceeding, or some other action. Be sure to include the court in which you filed, your case number, and the filing date.
When Can an Emergency Bankruptcy Filing Be Used?
There are certain scenarios in which filing for an emergency bankruptcy may be necessary. Examples of these are when an automatic stay is required immediately to help prevent the following collection actions from occurring, such as:
• Foreclosure of a home;
• Car repossession;
• Creditor lawsuits; and/or
• Wage garnishments.
Although it is not necessary to point to a specific emergency, it does help to prove that there is a real case and that the debtor genuinely needs relief from debt and is not simply abusing the court’s powers.
In general, bare bones bankruptcy cases typically involve filing the following items:
• An emergency bankruptcy petition;
• A list of the names and addresses of all creditors (this requirement may vary depending on the jurisdiction);
• A “Statement of Social Security Number” form;
• A “Certificate of Completion” of credit counseling (or waiver request); and
• The debtor will need to either pay the mandatory filing fee, request to pay the fee in installments, or request a fee waiver.
A debtor must still comply with the remaining requirements found in all bankruptcy cases, but a skeleton filing will buy them some time and keep creditors at bay while they are compiling the rest of the documents.
Benefits and Limitations of Emergency Ban
Before filing a petition for an emergency bankruptcy, a debtor should be aware of the benefits and limitations involved in the process. Some benefits of filing for emergency bankruptcy may include the following:
• It can be used to stop certain collection acts from occurring against the debtor immediately, such as repossession of property, foreclosure of a home, and being sued by a creditor for debts owed (note that this does not mean that these acts will not happen eventually);
• In certain instances, it may give the debtor some time to reclaim possession of property while bankruptcy proceedings are currently underway; and/or
• Once filed, it will allow the debtor to receive the protections granted by an automatic stay.
On the other hand, some limitations of filing for emergency bankruptcy can include that:
• Not all debtors may qualify to file for emergency bankruptcy. For instance, debtors who have filed for bankruptcy in the past may be restricted from filing for emergency bankruptcy altogether or will have to abide by stricter limitations than they normally would if this had been their first time filing for it;
• A debtor must still complete the mandatory credit counseling sessions and receive a certificate of completion within 180 days before filing, even in emergency bankruptcy cases;
• After the bankruptcy hearing is over, a debtor may still have to pay off certain non-dischargeable debts (e.g., spousal support); and
• Despite the fact that it is an emergency filing, a debtor must comply with the majority of procedural requirements like providing any and all documents requested by the bankruptcy court. In other words, a debtor cannot simply request an emergency bankruptcy, reap the benefits of an automatic stay, and then abandon the case.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help Filing for Emergency Bankruptcy?
Handling a bankruptcy matter without the assistance of a legal expert can be very stressful. These types of cases require strict attention to detail, thorough knowledge of the law, and proper compliance with necessary procedures.
For many, bankruptcy cases can also be unsettling due to the subject matter involved, namely, your finances.
Therefore, if you need to file for emergency bankruptcy, it may be in your best interest to contact a local bankruptcy lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced financial lawyer will already be familiar with the relevant bankruptcy laws and legal processes, will be able to determine whether or not you are eligible to file for emergency bankruptcy, and can relieve some of the stress that filing for bankruptcy may cause.
In addition, your lawyer can assist you with any supplemental bankruptcy filings, inform you about the risks and benefits of filing for bankruptcy in general, and provide representation in court during your bankruptcy proceedings.
What Is a Bankruptcy Lawyer?
A bankruptcy lawyer specializes in giving legal advice to a client about bankruptcy, prepares legal documents for the client and represents the client in court. An attorney must hold a law degree and be licensed in the state where they do business.
As your guide through the bankruptcy process, a lawyer can advise you about matters such as:
• Whether to file for bankruptcy
• Which type of bankruptcy to file
• How the bankruptcy process works
• Which court-provided forms need to be completed
• What kinds of debts can be reduced or eliminated
• Whether you’ll be able to hang on to your home, car or other property after the bankruptcy case is finished
What To Expect From a Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you hire a bankruptcy lawyer, here’s what to expect:
• A written agreement, or contract, between you and the lawyer. The agreement will likely include an overview of the lawyer’s work for you.
• A description of payment arrangements. For example, will the lawyer charge an hourly or a flat fee? How much will the fees be?
• Ongoing discussions. You’ll talk about how the lawyer is handling your case.
• An agreement. You’ll agree on how and how often the lawyer will update you about your case.
• A list of documents. The lawyer should provide you with a complete list of documents needed for your bankruptcy case.
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
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