Short answer: 30 minutes for a skeletal petition.
(A skeletal petition only has your name/social/address along with your pre-bankruptcy course certificate and a list of your creditors. This gets you a case number and stops a foreclosure dead in its tracks)
Here is what you need for an emergency or skeletal petition:
1. Pre-bankruptcy class: You can NOT file an emergency petition (or a full petition) without taking this class first. The class takes one hour to complete. If you need to file bk in a hurry, then you’d better take this class immediately. And no, your attorney won’t file your case without that certificate. We don’t file cases with the intention of letting them get automatically dismissed.
2. Personal identifying information: At a minimum, we need your name/social/address.
3. List of creditors: You need to have a list of your creditors that will be affected by this bankruptcy.
4. Consultation: You need to have previously met with your attorney, had a full consultation, and had him review the Form 22 Means Test to determine whether you qualify for a chapter 7, chapter 13, or other kind of bankruptcy. You really can’t just walk into an office and plunk down a fee as if you were ordering a #1 at McDonald’s (even though the Big Mac combo is excellent for the price). He also needs to review your assets, because it would be fairly awful to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy, not realizing that the chapter 7 trustee immediately put an intercept on your $12,000 tax refund you were hoping to receive and spend.
Here are the approximate times:
30+ minutes…initial consultation.
60 minutes….pre-bankruptcy class.
30 minutes…..Prepare a skeletal petition from start to finish.
240 minutes…Prepare a full petition.
No one likes to prepare or file a skeletal petition, and I will only do it in a true emergency, like a foreclosure sale that is scheduled today in two hours instead of next week like we initially thought.
I also like to take my time on crafting the bk petition. Bankruptcy is heavily form and paperwork oriented, and there are a lot of moving pieces that you have to line up to get it done correctly. (Yes, I am watching Stargate SG1 on the second screen. It makes the paperwork process a little more endurable).