Sunday, December 13, 2015

Bankruptcy - How long should it take to file a case?

This is a hard question to answer. I have had several conversations with other people and carefully reviewed the histories of my own cases and practices. The professionals have told me cases should be filed as quickly as a week or two after being retained to others believing up to 90 days is reasonable. A review of my files showed me I have filed non-emergency cases as quick as three weeks and a few cases took months to get filed.  

There are many variables. Obviously, a pending garnishment or sheriff's sale can require almost immediate filing with the minimal information. A debtor still must complete credit counseling before filing but it can be done rather quickly.

The law firm's resources and attorney's style can influence the timing as well. If a firm has staff dedicated to its bankruptcy practice, it can reduce the time to file. Some attorneys may rely more on what a client tells them and others may want more documents before filing.

One of the main variables is the clients and debtors themselves. Many people do not realize the number of records required to prepare a bankruptcy case. Attorneys have a duty to investigate the case before it is filed.

The bankruptcy petition, schedules and statements contain information on a debtor's family, income, inventory of assets, debts, leases, banking, payment history, law suits, repossessions and much more.  When an entire bankruptcy package is complete and ready for filing, it is approximately 45 - 60 pages of information.

In order to complete these documents, debtors need to provide the previous six months of paystub, at least 3 months of bank records, four years of tax returns, valuations on real estate and automobiles, official social security card, loan documents, etc. Many attorneys hand out questionnaires and checklists to help a client gather the necessary records.  It takes time to gather this documentation and assemble the bankruptcy package.

To me, two weeks seems a little quick. When I have regular contact and the cooperation of a client, my goal is to have the case ready to file within thirty days.  The preparation can easily slip to 45 days when people are working or lack the technology to gather records. If a client is really working with me to get the case filed and giving me the things I need, I think any time over 60 days is too long.

There is no set time it should take to file a bankruptcy case. It will depend on the attorney's style, workload, and the client's ability to provide the necessary information. My goal is 30 - 45 days providing my clients have the time and fully cooperate.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark Medvesky or our firm of Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at

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