How long does it take to file a bankruptcy case?

by Jay Fleischman, Esq.

May 15, 2009

Bankruptcy cases can’t be prepared overnight.  We find that it takes at least a week or two to prepare a case for filing even under the best of circumstances. You need to take credit counseling before you can file.  You need to tell your lawyer all the information needed to determine your assets, your debts, your financial history and your budget. 

Here are just a few of the things you and your bankruptcy attorney must do before filing your case:

  • Gather information about all of your real estate and personal property
  • Determine proper values for each category of assets
  • Determine the exemptions to which you are entitled
  • Determine whether to reaffirm secured debts, surrender property or redeem it
  • Determine whether any of your debts are entitled to priority
  • Determine if you have contracts which are still in force and not completed (executory)
  • Determine your budget
  • Organize and disclose your financial history
  • Arrange for your credit counseling
  • Determine your income history for the past 6 months and complete the means test

Once that’s done, you and your attorney will check and verify everything.  And your fee in chapter 7 cases needs to be paid in full before filing.  If you are filing a chapter 13 case, you must also prepare a plan.

So you can see that your bankruptcy attorney has a lot of work to do in order to get your bankrupcy case ready for filing.  With your help and cooperation, these seemingly overwhelming tasks can be handled efficiently and quickly.

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Jay S. Fleischman is a bankruptcy lawyer with offices in Los Angeles and New York. He can often be found on Google+ and Twitter, where he shares information about consumer protection issues and personal finance.

Last modified: May 12, 2009