Emergency Bankruptcy Filing

A quick bankruptcy filing can stop impending creditor action. Learn how fast you can file an emergency bankruptcy online.

By , Attorney · University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

Sometimes, you need to stop a creditor's action fast. Filing for bankruptcy can help. When you open a case, the court puts an automatic stay in place that prohibits most creditors from continuing collection actions against you (although exceptions exist for repeat bankruptcy filings).

But, completing all the bankruptcy forms isn't a quick process. If time is running short, you can use a fast online bankruptcy filing process known as an emergency bankruptcy filing (or skeleton filing), get the automatic stay in place, and submit the remaining documents later.

Filing Emergency Bankruptcy Forms Online

The average bankruptcy petition can easily consist of over fifty pages once completed. But when you're facing a foreclosure auction, repossession, wage garnishment, collection lawsuit, or another time-sensitive situation, getting all of the paperwork done might not be feasible.

You have another option.

When you need to file for bankruptcy quickly, you can get your bankruptcy forms filed online fast. Plus, you can access online filing at any time of the day, any day of the week, and start the online filing process by uploading only a small percentage of the required forms.

Forms Required for an Emergency Bankruptcy Filing

Downloadable bankruptcy forms are online at the U.S. Courts bankruptcy form webpage. But don't get overwhelmed by the long list. You need only a few to get started.

Here are the forms you must file to start an emergency bankruptcy filing online:

  • the bankruptcy petition (the primary document containing identifying information, the chapter you're filing, and other general information)
  • the names and addresses of the creditors that will be listed in the bankruptcy schedules (often referred to as a creditor mailing list or mailing matrix, so check with your court for format requirements)
  • a certificate showing that you completed the credit counseling requirement or a request for a waiver, and
  • Form B121 Your Statement About Your Social Security Numbers.

Also, be prepared to pay a filing fee, submit a request for a fee waiver, or a request to pay the fee in installments. Forms for fee waiver and installment requests are on the U.S. Courts bankruptcy form webpage.

Finalizing a Skeleton Bankruptcy Filing

Filing this short list of forms to start your bankruptcy case is often called a "skeleton" filing because it's the bare bones of what's required by the bankruptcy court. You'll still need to complete all other required bankruptcy forms.

If you don't file the additional documents within 14 days, the bankruptcy court will dismiss your skeleton bankruptcy case. Also, be aware that some courts require other forms. The requirements are in the local rules posted on your court's website.

Read How to Fill Out Bankruptcy Forms to learn about the bankruptcy forms you'll need.

Steps in an Emergency Bankruptcy Filing

For an emergency filing, you'll follow these steps:

Step 1: Check with the court clerk or bankruptcy court's website to find out exactly what forms you must submit for an emergency filing.

Step 2: Complete the Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy.

Step 3: On the list of creditors, include the names and addresses of everyone you owe money to, as well as collection agencies, sheriffs, attorneys, and others seeking to collect debts from you. You'll want to use the address on the most recent billing statement or court filing.

Step 4: Fill in Your Statement About Your Social Security Numbers form.

Step 5: Complete any other papers the court requires (for instance, some jurisdictions require a cover sheet and an order of dismissal the court will execute if you don't submit the remaining documents).

Step 6: File the originals and the required copies with the court clerk, along with your fee, a fee waiver application, or a request to pay the fee in installments. Keep copies for your records.

Step 7: File the remaining required forms within 14 days to avoid dismissal of your case.

Your bankruptcy lawyer will file the forms online. If you're filing for bankruptcy without a lawyer, check with your court for procedures. A few courts have online access. Most provide counterservice or drop boxes.

Getting and Completing the Bankruptcy Forms

For a complete list of the required forms, see Forms You Must File in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. You'll find tips and helpful information you can use when completing the bankruptcy forms.

Need More Bankruptcy Help?

Did you know Nolo has made the law accessible for over fifty years? It's true, and we want to ensure you find what you need. Below, you'll find more articles explaining how bankruptcy works. And don't forget that our bankruptcy homepage is the best place to start if you have other questions!

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Helpful Bankruptcy Sites

Department of Justice U.S. Trustee Program

United States Courts Bankruptcy Forms

We wholeheartedly encourage research and learning, but online articles can't address all bankruptcy issues or the facts of your case. The best way to protect your assets in bankruptcy is by hiring a local bankruptcy lawyer.

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