I receive a number of calls from potential clients who are about to lose their home, are having their wages garnished, or are facing some other imminent collection activity. Almost always the first question is, “how long does it take to file bankruptcy?” Filing emergency bankruptcy in either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 can take only a matter of minutes, but it’s often discouraged unless it is truly an emergency for which filing is necessary. For example, an emergency filing may be warranted if your home is going into foreclosure in a few days or even hours. However, if your only emergency is that your wages are about to be garnished, even though the garnishment may greatly impact your livelihood for a period of time, you should strongly consider making sure you have adequately prepared and reviewed the bankruptcy petition prior to filing.
Generally in order to file an emergency bankruptcy in Arizona you will need to pay your attorney’s fees, court fees, and class fees in advance. Most bankruptcy law firms charge additional fees for an emergency filing as well. The filing fee may be paid in installments over the course of 2-3 months or may be waived in certain circumstances. Additionally, you will have to take a 1 hour credit counseling class online or over the phone prior to filing unless you can get an extension or waiver. Finally, our firm requires that you drop off the Required Documents prior to filing, which include the following:
1. Driver’s License and Social Security card
2. Title and Registration for all vehicles paid in full
3. Motor Vehicle Record and Registration for any vehicles with loans (instructions on page 2)
4. Deeds to all properties; you can find a copy in your closing documents or at the
county recorder’s office/website
5. 6 months of pay records:
- Each and every pay stub for every job worked
- If self-employed: monthly income/expense reports
- If receiving Social Security Income – 2011 and 2012 Benefits letters
- If unemployed please write a statement giving unemployment dates and
provide records of any unemployment compensation
6. 6 months of complete bank statements for each and every open bank account,
you can print the statements online
7. 3 years of Federal & State Tax Returns, all the forms filed for each year including all W-2’s and/or 1099’s or IRS Transcripts for any year the tax forms are not Available
8. Financial Retirement Statements for all 401K / Pensions
9. Divorce Documents within Six Years
10. Child Support order for non-custodial parties
11. Judgments/Lawsuits filed within the last year
12. Current Life Insurance policies (declaration page)
13. Printout of Kelly Blue Book private party value for any vehicles (go to kbb.com)
If you have completed the above requirements and we have had a chance to thoroughly examine your case, your petition can be filed within matter of minutes. With an emergency bankruptcy filing the three page voluntary petition is due on the filing date. Seven days after filing the credit counseling certificate and initial creditor list must be filed with the court, while the remaining schedules and statements are due 14 days after filing. Once the voluntary petition is filed the bankruptcy stay stops all collection efforts such as foreclosure or wage garnishment.
Most clients want their case filed immediately regardless of whether they have an emergency. I generally advise these clients to be patient and wait the 2 to 4 weeks to ensure the bankruptcy paperwork is complete and accurate as most errors are irreversible after filing.
If you are considering filing emergency bankruptcy you should consult with an experienced Tucson or Phoenix bankruptcy attorney of Ariano & Associates, PLLC.