Is it Possible to File Bankruptcy Online?
The internet has changed the world, and it has also changed the legal world. Legal advice and information, including bankruptcy information, is now widespread. This has shifted many routine legal services online. So the question is: Can a person simply file for Bankruptcy online? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could go to the Bankruptcy Court’s website, fill in a form for “Chapter 7” or “Chapter 13,” hit “SUBMIT” and that was it? That would be great. However that is not how it works. Although there are now many aspects of a bankruptcy case that can be done online, the current bankruptcy process still takes time, and requires the debtor to appear at least once in person. It is still highly recommended to use an attorney when doing your bankruptcy. Read on to find out what parts of your bankruptcy can be done online, and which parts of your bankruptcy cannot be done online.
What Part of Filing Bankruptcy cannot be done Online?
There are a few reasons why you cannot completely file bankruptcy online. The first one has to do with identity theft. What if a criminal stole your information, logged into the court website, and filed a bankruptcy case in your name. With no opportunity for people to actually see you, this would be easy for the criminal to get away with. But because the current system requires the debtor to show up in person, that scenario would be much harder to pull off.
The Bankruptcy “341 Meeting of Creditors” Is Not Online
The other reason you cannot file bankruptcy online is because the bankruptcy laws require an appearance by the debtor at something called a 341 Meeting, or a Meeting of Creditors. When you file for bankruptcy, you must go to this meeting in person, show your photo ID and proof of social security number, and testify. Only in extremely rare cases may debtors miss this meeting. Although the meeting only lasts a few minutes, there is simply no method to accomplish “attending” this meeting if you were to “file bankruptcy online.”
Your Actual Signature is Required
Another reason you cannot file bankruptcy online is that your original signature is needed on many of the bankruptcy forms. This usually requires you to go to your lawyers office in person, although you could sign documents and mail them to you lawyer. You also want to meet with your lawyer at least one time at the beginning of your case, to get a feel if you like them or not. Some law firms have great websites, but the service they provide is downright terrible.
What Part of Filing Bankruptcy CAN be done Online?
The first step in your bankruptcy should be doing research online. Even though a lot of information online may be outdated or incomplete, it will still give you a general idea that will help your understanding when you communicate with an attorney. You can also research different attorneys in your area by going to their online websites and other sites that rank them. Most attorneys now have contact forms on their websites where you can contact them for a free consultation. Once you have hired a lawyer, you will need to complete 2 credit counseling courses (one before you file and one after). Both of these can now be done online, and your lawyer will file them with the court though an online system called ECF (electronic case filing). Through ECF, your lawyer will file your bankruptcy online, along with all the other documents related to your bankruptcy case. You will probably also communicate regularly with your bankruptcy lawyer online via email, which is usually the best way to get in touch of them.