Bankruptcy Resources updated for Covid-19
Below you’ll find a variety of resources about debt and bankruptcy during the COVID-19 outbreak.
An attorney can file electronically with the court’s three systems directly: ePOC, eFinCert, and ECF. During the pandemic this is the fastest way to get through the bankruptcy process. A national system for debtors to be able to file electronically themselves is being developed. The court will evaluate it for use when the system is available.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic some bankruptcy documents can be remotely signed and notarized. Temporarily a standard “wet signature” is not required to get your bankruptcy petition started.
Remote 341 Creditor Meeting
Bankruptcy trustees must hold creditor meetings by telephone, through video conferencing, or other remote communication in an effort to limit physical contact during proceedings. Bankruptcy courts are continuing to modify procedures and the use of technology may vary by court.
Some courts have permitted extensions or delays for proceedings. Such provisions differ by court and may be temporary.
Courts Have Reduced Hours
Oregon state, Federal, and Municipal courts have significantly limited trials, hearings, and general court operations due to COVID-19. State and Federal courts are open with skeleton staffing. Courts have limited services in different ways. An attorney can help determine how limited staffing affects your bankruptcy petition.
Oregon’s Governor and the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court have issued orders that temporarily prevent most evictions from moving forward. The update postpones court hearings on evictions until July 1, 2020. Tenants are required to pay partial or full payments as soon as possible. Although evictions are postponed all rent is still due.
In order to receive stimulus money you must:
- Have a valid Social Security number
- Be a US citizen or resident immigrant
- Be middle class, low-income, or have no income
- Not be claimed as a dependent
You will receive $1200 per individual and $500 per dependent if your adjusted gross income is less than $75k per taxpayer. Those with greater incomes will receive adjusted stimulus money. Additional factors may apply. For further information follow the link below.
Public Health Information
Oregon Safe + Strong Community Initiative
Oregon Health Authority
Governor Kate Brown’s Office
Layoffs Due to COVID-19
Many businesses are struggling and will have to resort to layoffs or bankruptcy themselves. Some economists believe a recession was due anyways and the pandemic is amplifying a natural economic ebb and flow. Furthermore many experts believe automation is on an upward trend and the pandemic will further compel companies to change their labor requirements and move towards a distributed “stay at home” workforce where applicable to increase efficiency. Many are looking to the government to provide relief and a safety net to ease this transition.
Will the Stimulus Be Enough?
Stimulus packages will help but for those laid off the relief will likely be brief. For some increased unemployment benefits and deferred payment provisions on rent and utilities will be enough to help them develop a plan with their creditors.
Negotiating With Creditors
If you don’t have enough income coming in from the stimulus plan, unemployment, or other sources to make regular payments it may be time to take a more aggressive stance with creditors. Provided you can prove your financial hardship to creditors many will accept whatever they can get. If you’re seriously considering bankruptcy they may be motivated enough to work with you. It’s important for them to verify your predicament. Be prepared to provide any reasonable information they require to make a deal with you. Negotiate with all your creditors before making any payments. If you’re not able to avoid bankruptcy by negotiating you’ll need all the money you can get once you declare bankruptcy. Be aware you must pay taxes on any forgiven debt and must factor in taxes you’ll owe as part of your plan.
Filing Bankruptcy Yourself During the COVID-19 Pandemic
You can file for bankruptcy yourself provided you’re willing to put in the time reading up online and are willing to pay close attention to the requirements and procedures. Be aware the pandemic has made filing yourself more difficult since you cannot file electronically and the courts have limited hours and available resources. Get an estimate from your attorney for comparison.
Consulting With a Bankruptcy Attorney
The best advice we can give is consult with an attorney prior to feeling overwhelmed if you can. The sooner a suitable course of action is determined the better you’ll be able to marshall your resources effectively and move towards that goal. Avoid delaying because of the stigma surrounding bankruptcy. Most lawyers are happy to offer you a general overview with basic information prior to engaging their services.