What Is a Skeleton Bankruptcy Filing?

Learn how fast you can file for bankruptcy using a skeleton filing.

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

Time is of the essence when facing an emergency. If you have to move fast, a skeleton filing can help you file a quick bankruptcy and stop the problem in its tracks.

Fast Bankruptcies Filed Online—How a Skeleton Filing Can Help

The shortened process known as an emergency or skeleton filing allows you to start a bankruptcy case by submitting an incomplete, bare-bones filing. And the best part? It can be filed online in a matter of minutes.

A specific emergency isn't required for a skeleton filing. Anyone who needs to file quickly to prevent an unwanted event from happening can use the process. For instance, bankruptcy can stop a:

After filing, the automatic stay goes into place and stops these types of issues immediately. Keep in mind that the relief might be temporary, and that not all bankruptcy chapters will solve every problem.

Understanding the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy will help you determine which chapter will best meet your needs.

Skeleton Filing Requirements

The average bankruptcy packet ranges from 40 to 50 pages in length. The beauty of a skeleton filing is that you don't have to complete all of the required paperwork.

Here's what you should be prepared to file and pay:

  • Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy (Form 101)
  • Your Statement About Your Social Security Numbers (Form B121)
  • the names and addresses of all of your creditors (known as a creditor mailing list or mailing matrix—check with your court for formatting requirements)
  • a credit counseling certificate requirement or a waiver request, and
  • a filing fee, a request for a fee waiver, or a request to pay the fee in installments.

A business will use the non-individual forms. You can find the official bankruptcy forms on the U.S. Courts website.

Finishing Up a Quick Bankruptcy Filing

The skeleton process buys you time—but that's it. You must submit the remaining forms within 14 days. The court will likely notify you about the deadline in writing.

A completed packet will contain information about every aspect of the debtor's financial situation, including the following:

  • creditors and debt
  • income and expenses
  • assets, such as investment accounts, real estate, and other property
  • up to ten years' worth of prior financial transactions, and
  • additional information, such as a statement verifying that the debtor took the required credit counseling course.

It's important to keep in mind that if you don't meet the filing deadline, the court will dismiss the case, and possibly issue sanctions if the court suspects an abuse of the bankruptcy process.

You can learn more by reading Emergency Bankruptcy Filing.

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