In Bankruptcy Information, Filing pro se

Among the many choices when someone files bankruptcy is the choice whether to make a full filing or an emergency filing, sometimes called a skeleton filing, because it’s a “bare-bones” type of filing.

Full filing
A full filing is where the debtor files everything that is required at once. For a list of what must be filed in a bankruptcy, see this post.

Skeleton
A skeleton filing is when the debtor needs to file ASAP but doesn’t have everything ready to go all at once. It’s useful when, for example, there is a foreclosure sale scheduled or a vehicle repossession is imminent, or wages are about to be garnished. The skeleton filing allows the debtor to file quickly and get the benefit of the automatic stay, which will prevent any action by creditors

What’s in a skeleton filing?
For a skeleton filing, only two things (besides the filing fee) are required. They are:
• Petition
• Consumer credit counseling certificate
When we talk about preparing the bankruptcy petition, you’ll see that it’s really pretty simple. So starting a bankruptcy on an emergency basis is something that can be done quickly and with little work.

What about the rest?
The remainder of the schedules and statements are due at various times within the 14 days after filing the petition. Within two days the debtor must file the creditors’ list (matrix) so the Bankruptcy Court can give the notice of filing required by law. Everything else must be filed within 14 days after filing the petition. This includes:
• Schedule A, real property
• Schedule B, personal property
• Schedule C, property claimed as exempt
• Schedule D, creditors holding secured claims
• Schedule E, creditors holding priority claims
• Schedule F, creditors holding unsecured claims. See here for a discussion of the types of claims.
• Schedule G, executory contracts and unexpired leases
• Scheduled H, co-debtors
• Schedule I, income
• Schedule J, expenses
• Summary of schedules
• Statement of Financial Affairs (SOFA)
• Statement of Social Security Number
• Statement of Intent
• Calculation of Monthly Income (Means Test)
• Tax Declaration

What if I miss the deadline?
After a skeleton filing the debtor will receive a deficiency notice, telling her what wasn’t filed and giving the date by which the missing documents must be filed. If the debtor misses that deadline, her case can be dismissed. The debtor will be given a notice saying that the case will be dismissed unless by a date specified in the notice the debtor objects to dismissal AND puts the objection on the court’s calendar for a hearing.

At the hearing, the debtor will be required to explain to the judge why she missed the deadline. If the judge feels the reason is valid (such as the debtor was in a car accident and couldn’t file), the judge may allow the case to proceed. If the judge doesn’t believe the reason is valid, the case will be dismissed.

If the debtor doesn’t object to the dismissal, her case will be dismissed. At that point, she can make a motion to the court to reopen the case. She must first prepare a motion, which is a written document, explaining why she didn’t file the required schedules and statements on time, and why she didn’t object to the notice of dismissal. Then she must get a hearing date from the judge’s chambers and prepare a Notice of Hearing. The debtor must send a copy of the motion and the notice to each creditor. Finally, she must attend the hearing on the motion and again explain in person why she missed the deadlines.

As you can see, it’s a lot easier to meet the deadlines and file the required schedules and statements within 14 days of filing the bankruptcy.

Which is better, full or skeleton filing?
In 95%+ of the cases, a full filing is preferable. That way everything is done, and the pressure is off once the filing is made. Only if there are exigent circumstances, such as pending foreclosures, repossessions, wage garnishments or the like should a person consider a skeleton filing.

If you find yourself needing bankruptcy help, contact us here, or call or text (801) 413-3708, or email steve@schamberslaw.com

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