How Long Does a Bankruptcy Take?

Apparently, patience is a virtue, but let’s be honest, we live in an instant gratification society where no one likes to wait on anything. From job applications, to phone calls, we all get a bit antsy when something starts to take too long. If you are looking into the various types of bankruptcies it is a great idea to take a look at what kind of timeline you are getting yourself into. So how long does a bankruptcy take? The two main types of personal bankruptcy, Chapter 7 and 13, have very different timelines due to the way each chapter is handled.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the quickest and most common type of personal bankrupcty. The whole process, from start to finish, can take anywhere from 4-10 months. The process officially begins when the bankruptcy paperwork (petition) is filed with the court, but unofficially the clock starts when you decide to file bankruptcy. In the initial stage you will spend time finding and hiring a cheap bankruptcy lawyer, paying the attorney’s fees, and collecting the necessary documents. At that point your bankruptcy lawyer will compile your financial documents into a petition and get ready to officially file bankruptcy. Usually 30 days after your petition has been filed you and your bankrtupcy attorney will attend at “meeting of creditors” where the bankruptcy trustee will ask you simple questions about your paperwork. 60-90 days after your court appearance you should receive discharge papers in the mail stating that your bankrtupcy case was both completed and successful.

The timeline for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is longer and more complex, but it is an extremely effective course of action if you are trying to save your home or vehicle. The initial stages of the timeline mimic that of the Chapter 7: hiring an cheap bankruptcy lawyer, gathering paperwork, and paying fees. In fact, the main changes in the 2 timelines begin after the meeting of creditors which, again, happens around 30 days after the bankruptcy is officially filed with the court. There will be a second court appearance called a “confirmation hearing” that you may or may not be required to atttend, depending on your attorney. This hearing is used to present the potential 3-5 year payment plan to the chapter 13 trustee. At this point the trustee can choose to accept the plan as is, or to request revisions. Once the plan has been accepted the timeline depends upon the length of the plan itself which can range from 3-5 years. At the end of the payment plan the court will issue discharge papers to the debtor showing that their Chapter 13 bankruptcy was completed and successful.

Because bankruptcy is a legal process there is never an exact timeline for any chapter. Everyone’s financial situation is different and various issues and questions may arise at any point during the filing process. Just remember that even if you feel like the process is taking forever, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: bankruptcies help people acheive a financial fresh start!

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