How Long Does Bankruptcy Take?
There are two parts to your bankruptcy: pre-petition and post-petition. During the pre-petition phase of bankruptcy, the pace at which we move is generally determined by the client. In other words, if the goal is to file the bankruptcy, our firm is usually ready to do so before the client is ready. So the timing will be dependent upon how quickly you can get us the information we need, and payment. A good estimate is that it will typically take 2 weeks to a month minimum, to file. Most clients are filed within 2 months of beginning to work with us.
Post-petition, your bankruptcy filing will move along a more or less ‘set’ schedule, as determined by the court and outlined below. While there are some exceptions, you can generally rely on the timelines below.
Five Phases To Get Your Bankruptcy Filed
Entering Information – After a brief phone consultation, we will provide you with a login and password where you can begin entering information online. You do NOT need to manually enter information about your creditors. We will take care of that by ordering a credit report through our bankruptcy software. You will need to provide us with information about your last 6 months of income, you monthly expenses, and whatever property you own.
Review and Follow-Up – We will review your information and follow-up with you about specific items. For instance, if you tell us you sold property in the last 2 years, we will probably ask you for some specifics about that sale. We will also be able to confirm for you whether you will pass The Means Test for Chapter 7, and begin to estimate a payment if you’re filing Chapter 13.
Submitting Documents – There’s a list of documents we MUST have before we can provide you with a rough draft of your bankruptcy petition. This phase of gathering information is extremely important, as our bankruptcy filing with the court must match your actual account activity and filed tax returns, etc.
Online Credit Counseling – Prior to filing, you must complete an online credit counseling course. The course is paid for by our firm, and is purely educational. It’s not pass/fail. However, you will need to get the certification by completing the course. That certification is filed with your bankruptcy filing. Don’t worry, it’s all highly automated and the certificate comes directly to our email when you complete the online course.
Review and Sign Your Petition – Once we have gone over a draft of your bankruptcy petition and made any necessary changes, you will come into the office to physically sign your petition. The petition will then be filed electronically and a bankruptcy case number will be provided at that time. We will let you know immediately what your bankruptcy case number is and you can provide it to creditors if you receive any phone calls after filing.
The Post-Petition timeline below is for Chapter 7 filings. While Chapter 13 filing have many of the same deadlines, you will not receive your Discharge until you make your final Chapter 13 plan payment. Chapter 13 plans are typically proposed at 60 months (5 years). While you can propose a shorter term, the total amount you pay will typically remain the same or increase. As a result, a shorter term results in a higher payment. We are happy to discuss this with you, as each Chapter 13 plan is unique.
Financial Management Course – (After filing, but before your 341 meeting date) Before you attend your 341 meeting, you should complete the 2nd and final online counseling course, known as the Financial Management course. It is purely educational and our firm pays for it. It is a requirement to receiving your Discharge in bankruptcy, so it’s important that you get it done. Don’t worry, we will remind you.
341 Meeting – (40 days after filing) About 5 days after filing, your case will be assigned a 341 meeting date. This date is typically about 40 days after filing, and in Charlotte it’s on a Wednesday. The meeting takes place near the Federal Courthouse, in a more informal setting with the bankruptcy trustee. There are typically no surprises at the 341 meeting. The trustee usually has reviewed your bankruptcy filing and asks a few follow up questions, and sometimes requests documents or bank statements which we have 14 days to supply to him or her.
Objections to Exemptions – (30 days after the 341 meeting) Your creditors and the trustee have 30 days after the 341 meeting to object to your Exemptions. Exemptions are statutory, and they are allowances which help you to protect your assets. For instance, there is a vehicle exemption of $3,500, a homestead exemption of $35,000, etc. We will go over all of your exemptions with you and use them to protect your property. Prior to filing your bankruptcy, you will know that your property is protected.
Objections To Discharge – (60 days after 341 meeting) The deadline for objections to Discharge is 60 days after the 341 meeting date. There’s nothing for you to do, but in our office we will be waiting to see if any creditors object to your Discharge. Typically, they do not. If they do, we will contact you and address the objection by filing a response with the court.
Entry of Discharge – Roughly 120 days after you file your bankruptcy, and all the deadlines for objections has passed, your Discharge will be entered, and your case will be closed.
Paying For Your Bankruptcy
We understand paying for bankruptcy is difficult when money is already tight. We try to be as flexible as possible when it comes to payment. We will gladly review your information before asking for any money from you. Once we confirm you will qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, we ask for a deposit. With the deposit made, we will continue to work on your case and you can tell your creditors you have legal representation. We can file your bankruptcy when you make your final payment.
If you’d like to read about additional bankruptcy topics, visit the Bankruptcy Articles page, where we have over 100 articles covering everything from credit scores to back taxes.
Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Attorney Today
If you would like to discuss filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, call us at 704.749.7747 or click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out to you today. Bankruptcy is powerful relief from debt. It truly is a fresh start. We’d be happy to help you on your way to recover, and we hope you choose to Recover With Us.