Does Bankruptcy Take a Long Time?
If you’re facing financial challenges and ongoing harassment by creditors, the last thing you want to hear is that it’s going to take a while to resolve the problem.
And while there’s no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to debt, some solutions take longer than others. Bankruptcy is a good example of this.
The good news about bankruptcy is that even if you don’t resolve all of your financial issues immediately, beginning the process does bring some immediate relief.
But how long will the bankruptcy process take? When can you expect it to be over so you can move on with your life?
The first factor that will determine how long your bankruptcy will take is the chapter you file. Chapter 7 tends to take a lot less time to complete than Chapter 13. Most people who file for chapter 7 complete the bankruptcy process in about four to six months, while those who file for Chapter 13 are looking at a three to five year commitment.
But these numbers are based on when you file. Most people find the entire bankruptcy process takes longer because of the time it takes to get ready to file. So chapter 7 might actually take six months to a year depending on how long it is between when you decide to file and when all of your paperwork is submitted.
The good news is you have complete control over this pre-bankruptcy timeline.
To learn more about the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, check out this information from Nolo.com.
How Can I Prevent Bankruptcy Delays?
The best thing you can do to prevent a delay and move through your bankruptcy as quickly as possible is to get the information needed to file for bankruptcy to your bankruptcy attorney as quickly as possible. In an ideal world, you’ll bring your financial records to your initial consultation. Even if you choose not to follow through, your attorney can conduct a complete assessment of your financial situation at this first meeting.
The best bankruptcy attorneys know that time is important when filing and will move quickly through the initial process, but all too often their clients cause a delay. The most common causes of bankruptcy delays occur because the person filing fails to fill out the complete questionnaire, doesn’t provide enough paystubs, fails to submit their tax returns, or loses needed information and needs to search for or request copies.
The best thing you can do during the pre-filing period is to get the information your attorney requests submitted as soon as possible.
After You File
Once your case is filed you have less control over the timeline. Luckily, the length of time it takes the bankruptcy court to process your case is fairly predictable and most people receive their Chapter 7 discharge in about three to four months from when they file.
You still have obligations after you file, though, and if you delay meeting these obligations your case can take longer. For instance, you’ll need to attend your meeting of creditors and complete your bankruptcy education requirements.
In Chapter 13, you’ll need to meet your payment plan obligations, provide updated information to the bankruptcy trustee throughout the plan, and meet the education and meeting requirements the same as Chapter 7 filers.
The time it takes to complete bankruptcy varies from chapter to chapter and case to case. The more proactive you are the better.