How Long Does it Take to File Bankruptcy?

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Regardless of the circumstances that led you to your financial issues, like more than one million other Americans, you've to file for bankruptcy. You've done your research and found just the right attorney to do it. and you want to file right now. How long will it all actually take?

Attorney Matthew Brennan lends his expertise.

So, how long will it take you to file for bankruptcy?

This will mostly depend on you, assuming you find a reasonably diligent attorney. The most common hold-up to filing is the need to pay the attorney and filing fee. I love my clients, and I will do everything for them ethically permitted under the law. I will even meet them on evenings and weekends. But, one thing I will not do is file their case without being paid first, and I believe this is the standard practice for the vast majority of bankruptcy attorneys. The reason? If I don't get paid up front, my fees get discharged through the bankruptcy. I'm no Warren Buffett, but even I realize this is not a great business model. Don't take it personal when your bankruptcy attorney wants paid in full before filing, it has more to do with circumstance than you.

The good news is that most attorneys will work with you to set up a pay arrangement, and will represent you and prepare your case while you are paying. Regardless, this can sometimes take months.

Things You'll Need

  • Tax returns from the past two years of filing

  • 6 months of income details, such as pay stubs, child support receipts, or alimony settlement paperwork

  • A mortgage statement (if you own your home) and proof of insurance

  • Car loan paperwork, a current value, registration, and proof of insurance

  • Retirement plan information

  • Child support rulings, alimony settlements, or any other payment orders you legally must follow

  • Drivers license or passport and your social security card

Beyond paying your attorney, you will also need to complete an online course, collect documents related to your assets, income, debts, and other relevant information, and meet your attorney to put everything into your petition.

All of these things can be completed very, very quickly if you are prepared. I have met clients on Tuesday or Wednesday and filed their case by the end of the week. On the other hand, I have clients who take two months to gather a couple pay-stubs and a medical bill. You can get it done as quickly as you are motivated to do it.