The Bankruptcy Court has been closely monitoring and following recommended guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local public health officials, and preparedness guidelines from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) regarding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and is releasing updates almost daily.
Upsolve is still operating as normal, allowing users to complete the questionnaire, answering questions and releasing forms for filing to our users. This article will provide some answers to questions you may have about your bankruptcy case.
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We’re producing a number of articles in addition to updating this page. You will find a list with links to related content at the bottom of this article. Alternatively, you can visit our Learn Center Section on COVID-19 to find our newest articles.
For the latest news about YOUR court, visit your court’s website. Updates can most likely be found on the homepage in the “News” section of their website. Keep in mind, the clerk’s office is likely understaffed and overwhelmed with calls at this time, so be sure to see if the information on the court’s website answers your question before calling, unless the question is specific to an upcoming deadline or hearing in your case.
Can I still file? What if my court is closed?
For the time being, yes. Updates are being published almost daily. The first thing you should do is check your court’s website to see if they’ve published any specific guidance for your district. Even if your courthouse is closed to the public, the courts are still operating. Since many courts are closed to the public a pro se debtor can file by placing their forms in a dropbox at the court, or by emailing or faxing in their forms.
Check out this article for more information on how to submit your forms to the court.
I filed by dropbox, mail, email or fax, how will I know my forms are filed?
When you filed your case, you provided the court with your contact information. The clerk’s office will contact you by email or phone once your forms are filed. If you filed by mail, you should expect to receive confirmation via mail within 1 - 2 weeks.
Do I still have to pay my filing fee?
Yes. For more information on how to pay your filing fee, click here.
Upsolve users: Can I update my filing date?
Yes, you can if you want to. The filing date is only used internally at Upsolve so updating it will not make a difference. It is still important that users file with the most accurate and up-to-date information, so if it has been over 8 weeks since you completed the questionnaire, you’ll need to complete the questionnaire again. You will be notified in your account if you are required to restart.
If you recently completed the questionnaire but something has changed, your forms will also need to be updated. Always double check the information on Schedules A/B, Schedule I and Schedule J to make sure it is accurate before filing. To make updates to these schedules use the case editor! To access the case editor click on the "Update Info" icon at the bottom of your my.upsolve screen and choose which information you need to update. Let us know if you have any issues entering information by sending us a message using the “Submit a Request” link on help.upsolve.org.
What can I expect if I need to go to court?
Until further notice, filers should not visit their court unless absolutely necessary. Check with the court’s website to see whether the court is open to the public and allowing visitors. Know that some courts are screening visitors before they enter the court by asking questions about recent travel from domestic or international areas with a high number of confirmed cases. They may also ask if you have been exposed to someone who is a confirmed case or if you are experiencing some of the symptoms described by the CDC. In most cases, if you state “yes” to any of these questions you will be denied entrance to the building or courthouse.
What can I expect overall when it comes to my bankruptcy case?
Expect Delays! As of today, the courts are open but many courts are operating with limited staff or staff working remotely. There will be delays in the processing of documents and both hearings and 341 meetings are being rescheduled or conducted telephonically in most districts.
I just filed, will my 341 meeting be scheduled? When will I get my Form 309A?
You can expect to receive your Form 309A, which will show the date of your 341 meeting, in the mail a few days after filing your case. We have not seen any delays in the notice being mailed out, though there may be some delays due to slower mailing times. 341 meetings continue to be scheduled between 20 - 40 days from the date the case was filed with the court. Upsolve users can check their Court Notices in their my.upsolve accounts.
Do I still have to abide by the deadlines in my case?
Yes! You should plan to meet all deadlines set in your case. This includes payment due dates, deadlines to cure deficiencies, deadlines to submit the course 2 certificate and any deadlines to provide your trustee requested documents. It is unclear how lenient the court will be to pro se debtors (if at all) and you do not want to have your case dismissed for missing a deadline.
What if I have a hearing scheduled in my case?
Most hearings are being changed to telephonic hearings. If you have a hearing coming up in your case, keep an eye out for notices from the court about whether it’s going to be rescheduled or how to call in for the hearing.
What about my 341 Meeting of Creditors?
The Office of the United States Trustee handles everything related to the 341 meetings. At the moment, all in-person 341 meetings scheduled through May 10, 2020, have been changed to take place telephonically or through other alternative means that do not require an in-person meeting. You can learn more about how to prepare for your 341 meeting taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic here.
Make sure to also keep an eye out for specific instructions from your case trustee. If you haven’t heard from the trustee’s office and your meeting date is coming up in the next 10 days, contact them directly to find out how they are handling their 341 meetings. Keep in mind, each Chapter 7 trustee is an independent contractor and they’re figuring things out on their own during this emergency.
My 341 meeting was scheduled between March 16 and April 10th. What should I do?
As of 4/1/2020, all courts have suspended in person 341 meetings and trustees will conduct 341 meetings by telephone or other means instead. The court or your trustee will provide a phone number, access code and security code along with specific instructions on what to do on the call. Each trustee may have different procedures to conduct these telephone meetings. Call or email your trustee for more information.
Do not wait for the court or your trustee to contact you. Stay informed by checking the court’s website and contact your trustee well in advance of your meeting so they can explain the call instructions and answer any questions you may have about the procedure.
If your 341 meeting is going to take place telephonically, your trustee or the US Trustee may send you a form for you to complete and sign in front of a notary public. If you have any question or concerns about this, please contact your trustee directly.
What does it mean if my 341 meeting or hearing is “continued until a later date to be determined”?
If you had a meeting or hearing (such as a fee waiver or reaffirmation) scheduled between 3/16/20 and 4/10/20 and received notice that it is “continued” your meeting was moved to a new date. If the notice doesn’t list a new date, the new date has not yet been set by the court. Since things are pretty fluid, some courts are not setting new dates for their hearings yet. Remember to check your mail and/or court notices for updates. You can contact your trustee periodically to see if they know if a new date was scheduled.
My trustee sent me an Affidavit of Debtor regarding a telephonic hearing. Do I need to sign it?
Yes. Since the trustee has a duty to check your identity and that’s hard to do when the 341 meeting is taking place via telephone or video conference, your trustee or the court may send you an “Affidavit of Debtor” or similar form to verify your identity. These affidavits have to be notarized. Please bring your ID and proof of social security with you to the notary. Since many businesses are closed you may have some difficulty finding a notary in your area, so don’t wait until the last day to take care of this requirement as it may delay your case even further. If you have any trouble finding a notary public, contact your trustee as soon as possible.
Will this delay my discharge?
It can. A debtor cannot receive a discharge until after a 341 meeting has been conducted. Some courts are rescheduling 341 meetings and extending related case deadlines by 60 days, which also delays the earliest date for your discharge to be entered. The court and the trustee will keep you updated about rescheduled or continued 341 meetings. Along with staying in contact with your trustee, routinely check your mail and court notices for updates regarding your case. If your 341 meeting has already taken place, check your court notices for updates or check in with your trustee.
Will this affect my automatic stay?
No. Other than the exceptions to the automatic stay, the automatic stay remains in place as long the case has not been dismissed.
Do I need to contact my creditors?
No. Courts are confirming that “appropriate notice will be provided to parties in accordance with bankruptcy law and rules”.
We will continue to monitor updates from the courts and post answers to questions we receive. The court is asking all parties to be patient as they work through their new procedures. Upsolve will remain open and our employees are continuing to work remotely until further notice. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at help.upsolve.org!