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Filing for Consumer Bankruptcy During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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If you are making plans to file for personal bankruptcy, or if you are considering your options for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, we know that you probably have questions and concerns about how the COVID-19 emergency will affect the bankruptcy process. You should know that you can still file for consumer bankruptcy despite the pandemic, and certain changes to the bankruptcy process will make it so that you do not have to leave your home and risk exposure to the virus in order to complete the necessary steps in a consumer bankruptcy case.

The following information provides some clarity about the key steps in a Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy case, and how they have changed as a result of the coronavirus.

Online Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling 

Within 180 days (or 6 months) prior to your consumer bankruptcy filing, you will need to complete a credit counseling course. For quite some time, consumers who are planning to file for bankruptcy have had access to online credit counseling courses, and that fact remains true during the coronavirus pandemic. To be clear, you do not need to leave your house in order to take the first step in the bankruptcy process: completing pre-bankruptcy credit counseling.

Filing a Bankruptcy Petition and All Accompany Documents and Disclosures 

The next step in the bankruptcy process is filing a bankruptcy petition. While Florida courts are largely closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic except for essential hearings and emergency situations, your Orlando bankruptcy attorney can discuss what you need to do in order to file for bankruptcy. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently issued a news release indicating that it is taking steps to ensure the bankruptcy system continues to function effectively despite the COVID-19 emergency.

And similar to your pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course, you will not need to leave your home in order to have representation for a consumer bankruptcy lawyer in Orlando. You can meet with your bankruptcy attorney either over the telephone or via a virtual platform. As many workplaces are shifting to virtual meetings, so are attorneys and law offices moving to virtual meetings with clients during the pandemic. To be clear, you will be able to “meet” with your bankruptcy lawyer without risking exposure to the coronavirus by leaving your home.

Assignment of a Bankruptcy Trustee 

Once you file for bankruptcy, a bankruptcy trustee will be assigned to your case. Under different circumstances, certain bankruptcy cases are audited. However, as a recent news release from the U.S. Department of Justice explains, the U.S. Trustee Program has suspended all bankruptcy case audits “to limit the need for in-person contact by those involved in the audits.” Accordingly, you will not need to wonder if your case will be audited at this time—it will not.

The 341 Meeting of Creditors 

The 341 Meeting of Creditors, under non-pandemic circumstances, is one aspect of a consumer bankruptcy case that must take place in person. However, during the pandemic, even the 341 Meeting of Creditors has become virtual.

Debtor’s Education Course 

Like the pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course, the debtor’s education course you must complete before a bankruptcy discharge can be completed online before you receive a discharge.

Contact an Orlando Bankruptcy Lawyer to Learn More 

Do you have questions about filing for personal bankruptcy? An Orlando bankruptcy attorney can help. Contact Anderson & Ferrin today.

Resource:

justice.gov/opa/pr/us-trustee-program-acts-quickly-protect-public-health-and-ensure-effective-functioning

https://www.vandersonlaw.com/coronavirus-pandemic-and-consumer-bankruptcy/

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