How Can an Emergency Bankruptcy Filing Help Me?
Bankruptcy provides an orderly process for an individual or business to discharge or restructure their debts. Bankruptcy is not quick. It requires filing a number of forms and dealing with multiple parties, including the bankruptcy judge, the bankruptcy trustee, and of course creditors.
There are some cases where a debtor needs to expedite matters in order to get the ball rolling on a bankruptcy case. When time is of the essence, the debtor can make what is known as a “skeletal” or emergency bankruptcy filing. Essentially, the debtor files the minimum paperwork required to initiate the bankruptcy case, while promising to complete certain additional tasks later.
Why Time Matters In Filing for Bankruptcy
You might wonder why someone would need to make an “emergency” bankruptcy filing at all. The reason is fairly simple. Once a person or business files for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court issues what is known as an automatic stay. This is a legal order that stops most pending creditor actions against the debtor. This stay remains in effect until the bankruptcy court directs otherwise.
The automatic stay is therefore a powerful tool for debtors who are faced with an imminent event such as a mortgage foreclosure, eviction, vehicle repossession, or even a potential civil lawsuit. Filing for bankruptcy immediately can temporarily halt such events. And even if the stay is eventually lifted for certain creditors, the debtor may still buy some time to get their affairs in order.
How a Skeletal Bankruptcy Filing Works
It is important to understand that an emergency or skeletal bankruptcy is not a separate type of bankruptcy proceeding. It is simply a term used to refer to making the minimum filings necessary to initiate a case and receive the automatic stay. The specific requirements for an emergency bankruptcy filing may vary depending on the procedures of your local bankruptcy court. But generally speaking, you will need to file the following documents immediately:
- A voluntary petition for bankruptcy, which is known as Official Form B101.
- A mailing matrix, which is a list containing the names and addresses of all of your known creditors.
- Official Form B121, which discloses your Social Security Number or any other taxpayer identification numbers you use.
- A certificate confirming you have received mandatory pre-bankruptcy credit counseling.
- The necessary bankruptcy filing fee, or in the alternative a request to pay the fee in installments (Form B103A).
After these forms are filed and the bankruptcy court issues the automatic stay, you will then have 14 days to file the remaining paperwork. This typically includes supporting schedules for your bankruptcy petition–which provide detailed information about your income, expenses, assets, liabilities, etc.–and if you are filing for Chapter 13, information regarding your plan for repaying your creditors over time.
Get Help Today From a West Palm Beach Bankruptcy Attorney
Even in an emergency situation, bankruptcy is not something that you should rush into without receiving competent legal advice. An experienced West Palm Beach bankruptcy lawyer can assist you in preparing your skeletal filing and help ensure that you comply with all legal requirements moving forward to ensure a successful bankruptcy process. To speak with an attorney today, contact Kelley, Fulton & Kaplan at 561-264-6850 to schedule a consultation.