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Bankruptcy Law/Timing - seems like my attorney is taking too long


QUESTION: What is the typical timing of a bankruptcy chapter 13 case?  We met with our attorney and provided all paperwork to file our chapter 13 case 4 weeks ago today.  We paid the filing fee that day.  It has been 4 weeks, and when I called to see when our 341 was scheduled (it should be 30 days from filing), they said my case hadn't been filed yet (it's been 4 weeks).

Is this normal?  They said it was.

What is a reasonable length of time for my attorney to file my case *after* they have all the paperwork and payment?

ANSWER: I'm not sure what "has all the paperwork" means;  if you dropped off a filled out questionnaire which is what we have clients do, listing all your assets, liabilities, income, expenses etc;  that is a source document from which the actual court papers are prepared.

The attorney has to prepare the documents for filing based on what you've given them.

 Nothing happens until these court documents are prepared and ready for signature; and you have reviewed each page of these documents and signed in multiple places.  Also, you have to sign a Chapter 13 plan which says how you propose to pay everyone and how much.

My guess is they haven't gotten around to preparing the court documents and plan for your signature.

Now if I'm wrong, and you signed atty-prepared documents for immediate filing with the court, then I have no idea why a delay.

In any event, this long a delay in getting the paperwork ready for you to sign seems odd;  I'd call them up and see what day this week you can  come in and sign so it can get filed.  If you get smoke as a response, switch to another attorney and get your filing fee back.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you, Lee.  We signed attorney-prepared documents and chap 13 plan, and paid the filing fee four weeks ago and still it hadn't been filed as of yesterday.

Thank you for your response; Now that I know this isn't reasonable I can figure out what I want to do next.

That then is 100% unreasonable and inexcusable if you weren't advised of a reason for a delay -- sometimes we delay filing because of a preferential payment made in the last 90 days to a creditor we want them to keep -- I don't know about your situation, but that is ALWAYS discussed fully with the clients who might have to sign "today" for scheduling purposes with the full and complete understanding WHY the delay.  If you have had no such discussions with the attorney, advise him or her that you need an explanation,  now;  and if you don't get one (i.e they're in conference, too busy, etc) by the close of business TODAY, then your next call will be to the bar association -- will that be necessary?

I would hope this is just some sort of clerical mix up;  in most jurisdictions nationwide attys are required to e-file the schedules once signed;  so I really don't get this.

Let me know what you find out.

Good luck.


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Consumer bankruptcy questions invited. I've been filing Chapter 7, 11 and 13 cases since 1985 in Calif and Arizona. I do NOT do homework questions. Let me know what state you're located in when you write. My bankruptcy practice is limited to California and Arizona but inquiries from other states are welcome. Your local jurisdiction determines exemptions. Find more background information at our website, Individual Chapter 11 and small business chapter 11 questions invited. We can also advise on the creditor's side if for example you have a fraud case, money judgment etc against someone who has filed (or is threatening) bankruptcy. We have filed and defended numerous adversary complaints in bankruptcy court and opposed trustees' demands for turnover of assets from time to time.


My partners and I have filed over 5000 consumer and small business cases to date in California and Arizona.

I've been a member of the California bar since 1984 and Arizona since 2004; also a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, Bankruptcy section of the Arizona State Bar, Tucson Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, Arizona Consumer Bankruptcy Counsel and American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA).

I've written a booklet on land trusts for real estate owners, players and dealers, and co-authored a special edition of "Stop Sitting on Your Assets". I was a writer of a monthly law review article relating to California real estate issues and pending and recently enacted legislation.

Attorney at law, experienced in trial procedures, adversary complaints filed and defended and numerous claims objection proceedings as well as filing cases for consumer and small business debtors.

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