By Rachel Lynn Foley, Esq.
January 13, 2012
P is For Patience
Merriam Webster defines patience...
as having the capacity of being patient. Being patient is being calm through trials and pain without complaint. When people visit with a bankruptcy attorney the last thing that is on their mind is patience. Generally their stress level is at a defcon level 1 or 2. Although they did not get into a financial bind overnight they want instant debt relief.
Unfortunately the bankruptcy wheels like many aspects of the law grind slow. There is a tremendous amount of paperwork required in any bankruptcy case and this takes a while to gather. There are timelines involved in every bankruptcy case regardless of whether you file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
It will take approximately 60 to 90 days before the case is filed when you retain the attorney. This timeline may be shorter due to an emergency or longer depending on the circumstances of the case. Once the case is filed a 341 Meeting of Creditors is scheduled generally within 30 days. The next deadline is the 60 day mark after the date first scheduled for your 341 meeting. This is the deadline for creditors to object to your case and attempting to prevent a discharge. If the creditors do not file by this time they are barred from objecting to your discharge.
The next deadline that comes up on the radar is the proof of claim deadline for the general unsecured creditors such as credit cards. This deadline is 90 days the date is first set for the 341 meeting. If the creditor does not file a proof of claim the creditor will not be paid if there are assets or money to be distributed in the case. Governmental entities have a deadline all their own when it comes to filing a proof of claim They are allowed up to 180 days after the filing date of the case to file their claims. The government is indeed special because if they ask permission from the court they can extend the deadline even longer if they have just cause.
When a client asks, and they generally do, how long a case takes my reply is, “It depends.” It always depends because each case is unique as a snowflake. For a Chapter 7 the case length is generally 6 months. In a Chapter 13 the timeline is 3 to 5 years unless you have the ability to payoff at 100%. So either way your case is going to take time to work up, review, file and obtain a discharge.
Patience is not only a virtue but a necessity when filing for bankruptcy. If you want a case filed quickly there are attorneys willing to take your money and file the case. However if you want to obtain the best result when filing for bankruptcy relief you want an attorney who is methodical, detailed and willing to take their time to cross the t’s and dot the i’s to ensure the best result.
Remember that knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have about having patience during the bankruptcy process the more power you will have to obtain debt relief. You did not get into debt overnight and you will not get out of debt overnight.