Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic’s uncertainty is especially difficult for those facing bankruptcy. Fortunately, many courts have temporarily relaxed rules, making it easier for bankruptcy attorneys to represent clients who have been quarantined. Therefore, if you are quarantined due to the coronavirus, rest assured that a large number of bankruptcy attorneys are prepared to assist you in getting out of debt.
Learn more about the temporary changes to bankruptcy procedures that have been implemented to help contain the spread of COVID-19.
Locating a Bankruptcy Attorney During the Coronavirus Epidemic
Due to the difficulty of representing yourself during the coronavirus outbreak, especially if you have ongoing health problems, your first hurdle will likely be hiring a bankruptcy attorney.
Because conducting in-person interviews will be impossible, you may wish to seek referrals from friends, family, and other attorneys. Additionally, you can search for a lawyer online or through your local or state bar association.
When contacting candidates, ensure that the office is capable of representing you while you are isolated, and that necessary accommodations are made, such as the following:
- For attorney-client meetings and document review, telephone or video conferencing is used.
- Options for submitting and signing documents include online, email, or dropbox.
- the possibility of making a telephonic appearance at the 341 creditors’ meeting (the one hearing all filers must attend).
- Additionally, inquire about the office’s free initial phone consultations. Discover the benefits of hiring a bankruptcy attorney.
Bankruptcy Filing During the Coronavirus Outbreak
While you are in quarantine, you will communicate with your lawyer and the court via technology. You will almost certainly require a computer, a printer, and a scanner (although some lawyers might let you use your phone to copy documents). Additionally, documents can be mailed or delivered by a friend or family member.
Here’s why these details will be critical.
Due to COVID-19, bankruptcy documents can be exchanged virtually.
Filing for bankruptcy is a time-consuming process. You should anticipate that your attorney will request that you complete a lengthy financial questionnaire. Additionally, you’ll need to gather numerous financial documents to substantiate your questionnaire responses.
Normally, the lawyer would hand you a packet and ask you to return it to the office later. Naturally, this will not work while you are quarantined. However, numerous attorneys already have functional systems in place.
For example, some attorneys begin the process by sending debtors a link to a website where they can complete the questionnaire online and possibly upload pay stubs, bank statements, and other documents required when filing for bankruptcy.
Others will email the bankruptcy questionnaire to the client and request that they scan and return it via email. If scanning is not possible, you can mail the documents in or have them dropped off at an office dropbox by a friend or family member (assuming that essential travel is permitted). Bear in mind that, according to some reports, the coronavirus can survive for an extended period on paper and cardboard.
Completion of Mandatory Bankruptcy Courses
You’ll complete two online courses—one prior to and one following your bankruptcy filing. Your attorney will assist you in obtaining access to the courses. Learn more about credit counseling and bankruptcy debtor education courses.
Meeting With a Bankruptcy Attorney Is Virtually Impossible Due to COVID-19
You should expect three to four consultations with your lawyer before the office files your case. The office can arrange meetings over the phone or via video conferencing.
Acquainting yourself with the attorney. You’ll ask questions, listen to the attorney’s assessment, and decide whether or not to retain the lawyer during the initial consultation. A lawyer familiar with your case may advise you of your options during that meeting.
Choosing a course of action. It is not uncommon for debtors to forget critical details inadvertently or to be unaware of the significance of certain information during the initial consultation. You’ll discuss anything new that came up in your questionnaire during this meeting. As a result, this will not be necessary unless the information contained in your questionnaire responses and financial documents contradicts what you and your lawyer discussed during the initial meeting.
Certain courts have temporarily waived the requirement that a bankruptcy attorney obtain an original or “wet signature” on the bankruptcy petition before electronically filing it with the court. This rule relaxation is extremely beneficial to both lawyers and clients during the coronavirus pandemic. It restricts the amount of contact that must occur prior to filing a case. Each day, more courts adopt similar rules.
If your local court has waived the requirement for a “wet signature,” your attorney should be able to immediately file your case online. Even if your local bankruptcy court has not yet relaxed this requirement, some attorneys may agree to a different arrangement. For example, the attorney may be able to review documents via phone or video conferencing and file the case after receiving the wet signature via mail or dropbox.
Bringing Your Bankruptcy Case to a Successful Conclusion
If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, all that remains is to await your discharge—the court order that eliminates your debt.
In a Chapter 13 case, your attorney will appear via telephone at a Chapter 13 confirmation meeting (as will you, if necessary—this will depend on the court’s practice). If the court approves your repayment plan at the confirmation hearing, you will make payments for three to five years on the agreed-upon schedule.
Speak With Our Bankruptcy Lawyers In Phoenix & Scottsdale
Canterbury Law Group should be your first choice for any bankruptcy evaluation. Our experienced professionals will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome. You can on the firm to represent you well so you can move on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation. We can assist with all types of bankruptcies including Business Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Creditor Representation, Chapter 5 Claims, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Business Restructuring, Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, and more.
*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.