The COVID-19 Corona Virus and your bankruptcy case: Frequently Asked Questions

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Written by the Upsolve Team.  
Updated April 1, 2020

Updated: 04/01/2020

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. 

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. 

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VERY IMPORTANT!

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. 

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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. 

Also, as before, you can file your case by mailing everything to the court. Check your court’s website for more information on how to file your case by mail, including which address to mail your forms to and how to pay the filing fee, if you’re not applying to have the fee waived. 

Each court has its own specific filing procedures. Please be sure to closely follow the clerk’s instructions on how to file your bankruptcy forms and always sign your forms before dropping them off or sending them to the court. Pro se debtors who email in their forms are required to mail the court a physical copy of their forms with a “wet” or original signature within 7 days of the email.  If you do not qualify for a fee waiver, the full filing fee or initial installment payment will need to be made at filing. Your court will provide you instructions on how to do this. Do not send cash to the court. 

For now the courts are still processing mail daily but expect delays in processing. Also, if a clerk did not check your forms before you filed, remember to frequently check your mail at home or your electronic court notifications for confirmation of your filing and to see if you were sent any other important time sensitive notices such as deficiency notices or a notice about your 341 meeting. 

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.

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How do I pay my filing fee?

Even though courts are closed to the public, you will still need to pay your filing fee at filing or abide by your scheduled payment due dates. The courts are not accepting cash payments, so do not mail in or drop off cash. Instead, visit your court’s website for more information on how to make a payment at filing or after filing. Court’s are accepting Money Orders, Cashier’s Checks or may allow you to make a payment online. If you applied for a fee waiver you will receive notice in the mail whether your application has been granted and further instructions on how to make a payment if your application was denied.

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

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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. 

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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. We have seen some smaller courts close for 14 days due to possible exposure. There will be delays in the processing of documents and both hearings and 341 meetings are being rescheduled by many courts.

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I just filed, will my 341 meeting be scheduled? When will I get my Form 309A?

The court will keep debtors updated about upcoming scheduled meetings. There may be some delays in scheduling meetings and issuing Form 309A as the court works with limited staff, closures and changes to court procedures. Upsolve users can check their Court Notices in their my.upsolve accounts.

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Should I still pay the filing fee and/or file my paperwork by the deadline(s)?

Yes! Debtors should continue to pay their filing fee and abide by their various deadlines and submit their required paperwork on time if possible. Keep close track of your deadlines and payment due dates. This includes payment due dates, deadlines to cure deficiencies, submit the course 2 certificates and 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. 

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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. 

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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 April 10, 2020, have been moved to a later date that is yet to be determined. To find out what accomodations, if any, are being made in your region, visit this directory listing to find the UST for your state. If there is no announcement on your region’s website, you can contact the UST’s office or your case trustee directly to find out about the status of your upcoming 341 meeting. 

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My 341 meeting was scheduled between March 16 and April 10th. What should I do?

As of 3/16/2020 many courts have suspended in person341 meetings and instead will conduct 341 meetings by telephone. 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.

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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. 

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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.

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Will this delay my discharge? 

It can. It can. A debtor cannot receive a discharge until after a 341 meeting has been conducted. Most 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. 

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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.

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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!

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About the author

The Upsolve Team
Upsolve is lucky to have an incredible team of contributing writers all over the country to help us keep our content up to date, informative, and helpful for everyone who visits upsolve.org!

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

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