Filing for bankruptcy relief can be a time-consuming process. The initial stages require filling out extensive paperwork and disclosing every detail of your financial matters. For those who have been planning to file, they might have had time to prepare and collect all necessary information over time, allowing them to complete the paperwork quickly. However, in some circumstances, you might not have the opportunity to prepare ahead of time and are in need of relief quickly. For example, say your home is in default and set to foreclose next week or you have been sued by a creditor and they are looking to garnish your wages soon. In these scenarios, you may be able to file an Emergency Bankruptcy to begin receiving protection under the Bankruptcy Code immediately. An Emergency Bankruptcy speeds up the beginning stages of a bankruptcy case, requiring a simpler and shorter filing process that will allow you to begin receiving relief immediately.
WHEN IS AN APPROPRIATE TIME TO FILE AN EMERGENCY BANKRUPTCY?
An Emergency Bankruptcy, also known as a Skeletal Bankruptcy, can be filed for many reasons. For example, if you have fallen behind on your home mortgage payments and fear you may be faced with a home foreclosure or eviction in the near future, an Emergency Bankruptcy can prevent that from happening. When filing for relief under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, filers are protected from any further actions taken by creditors due to the Automatic Stay. Despite requiring less paperwork, the Automatic Stay is still activated upon filing a Skeletal Bankruptcy. With the Automatic Stay, you gain protection from home foreclosure, wage garnishments, bank levies, new lawsuits, and more. That being said, one way would not receive protection under the Automatic Stay is if your creditors suspect you of any fraudulent activity or believe you have provided the Court with incorrect information and file a motion to lift the Automatic Stay. By doing this, they are in essence telling the Court that you should not be protected by the bankruptcy filing. Another way your Automatic Stay could be limited----or non-existent---is if you have previously filed for bankruptcy and that case (or those cases) were active within the prior 12 months.
HOW DO I FILE A SKELETAL BANKRUPTCY?
When filing for a Skeletal Bankruptcy, it is important to be aware that you must complete the rest of either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy proceedings. However, the initial stages are relatively simple. One of the biggest advantages of filing a Skeletal Bankruptcy is that it can be very quickly. Once you file the case, which is done online, the Automatic Stay will be activated and your bankruptcy case has officially begun. In addition to filing some paperwork, you will need pay the Court’s filing fee. If you plan to pursue a Chapter 7 filing, the fee is $338. If you plan to pursue a Chapter 13 filing, the fee is $313. Fee waivers are available for those who are eligible.
In comparison to an actual bankruptcy filing, an Emergency Bankruptcy requires you to complete 3 documents only in order to begin the process. A description of each required form can be found below:
VOLUNTARY PETITION – The Voluntary Petition introduces you to the Court and provides the Court with basic information about yourself and the details surrounding your bankruptcy filing. This includes the following information:
- Your full legal name
- Any previous names you have gone by including those used up to 8 years prior
- Last four digits of your Social Security number
- The names of any businesses you own (if applicable)
- Venue declaration
- Whether you are filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13
- Filing fee amount
- Previous filings and cases from the past 8 years
- Pending cases
- Rental declaration
- Business declaration
- Declaration of Chapter 11
- Declaration of Hazardous Property
- Certification of completion for credit counseling
- Summary of debts
- Declaration of Chapter 7
- List of creditors
- Estimate of all assets
- Description of any other liabilities or obligations you are responsible for
STATEMENT OF SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER – This document requires you to provide the Court with your entire Social Security Number.
VERIFICATION AND MASTER ADDRESS LIST – The final required document provides the Court with contact information for any creditors you are indebted to. This includes any mortgages, loans, credit cards, etc.
Once the Court has successfully received the above paperwork and all fees have been paid, the Court will file a notice declaring your filing has not yet been fully completed. If you fail to provide the Court with the rest of the bankruptcy paperwork within 14 days, your case may be dismissed. This notice will be enacted immediately. During this time, the Automatic Stay will be active. If you fail to file all and your case is dismissed, you will no longer receive protection from the Automatic Stay.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I FILE AN EMERGENCY BANKRUPTCY?
After you have filed your Skeletal Bankruptcy and the Court has drafted the notice, you must complete the rest of the bankruptcy paperwork. Once filed, you will attend a 341 Meeting of Creditors to determine the rest of your case. During this meeting, your Court-appointed Trustee will verify that all information provided is correct. Along with your creditors, they may choose to ask you any questions, and you are expected to respond truthfully under oath. If you are filing under Chapter 7, your debt will be discharged if approved by the Court. If you are filing under Chapter 13, the Court will look to approve your repayment plan and you will make regular payments to your creditors as directed by the plan.
Filing for bankruptcy is generally not a decision made overnight. In an ideal situation, you are able to take your time and prepare for filing for bankruptcy. However, life is full of unexpected circumstances and sometimes situations arise that do not allow you to have the luxury of preparing beforehand. For time-sensitive issues, an Emergency Bankruptcy can help provide you with instant relief, preventing your situation from worsening.
If you fear you may be facing a home foreclosure or lawsuit soon, contact us immediately to speak with an attorney directly. Together, we can discuss whether or not you should file an Emergency Bankruptcy and begin seeking relief.
We help clients in the following areas: Modesto, Stockton, Turlock, Ceres, Empire, Escalon, Hughson, Lathrop, Linden, Manteca, Oakdale, Patterson, Ripon, Riverbank, Salida, Tracy, Waterford