The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an economic disruption unlike any other in modern times. Many businesses found themselves needing to shutter their doors under the direction of the state or federal government, leaving both employers and employees without a source of income. In many cases, these employers furloughed or laid off their employees, and in other cases allowed their employees to work for a reduced salary from home. Many Americans found themselves struggling financially without an end in sight. While they may have not had the opportunity to continue to go to work, their bills and debts continued. While some lenders, such as federal student loans, allowed a temporary reprieve for their debtors, other lenders were not so gracious. The economic fallout of the coronavirus meant that many Americans were now considering something they had never considered before, filing for bankruptcy.
Considering Filing for Bankruptcy?
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy during this global pandemic, you are not alone. There are a few things that you should know as you begin to move forward in this process. First, while the landscape is ever-changing, most law firms are able to work remotely and have the ability to do both teleconferencing and videoconferencing. Therefore, you still have the legal right to file for bankruptcy, even if the world is not operating on typical business hours.
Additionally, while many bankruptcy courts have either closed or have reduced hours, they still are taking bankruptcy filings. This means that if you are seriously considering filing for bankruptcy, you still have a legal right to do so. Many courts are taking filings electronically, or even allowing certain required meetings (such as the 341 hearing) to be handled remotely. It is important to note that every bankruptcy court is handling the global pandemic differently, and therefore, you should contact the court first before showing up to ensure that you file your bankruptcy documents according to whatever new court rules are now in place, and will likely change over time as the country begins to open up.
Already Filed for Bankruptcy?
If you have already filed for bankruptcy, rest assured that you will still obtain your financial fresh start, albeit a bit later than normal. Expecting delays is probably the best policy at this point, as many bankruptcy courts are working with smaller staffs, and with closed doors. Just make sure to keep track of all your deadlines, as some of those will remain even if the bankruptcy court doors remain closed. For example, if the bankruptcy trustee provides you with your Affidavit of Debtor regarding a hearing by telephone, you should sign it. If you have any questions, make sure to contact your bankruptcy trustee. While it is an uncertain time for any kind of law currently in this country, your legal rights to declare bankruptcy are still protected.
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