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Can I File Bankruptcy in New Jersey During the Coronavirus Quarantine if I Can’t Leave My House?

Find out how to file bankruptcy in New Jersey during the Coronavirus quarantine while observing quarantine and social distancing rules during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dealing with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic is especially challenging for those who need to file for bankruptcy during the coronavirus quarantine. Fortunately, courts in New Jersey have loosened rules temporarily, making it easier for bankruptcy lawyers to represent quarantined clients.

Our office can serve you virtually while we work from home so you can stay safe and still file bankruptcy. So, if you’re in isolation due to the coronavirus, we are ready to help you get out of debt.

Here are the temporary changes to bankruptcy procedures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Representing yourself during the coronavirus outbreak will likely be difficult, especially if you have ongoing health problems, so your first challenge will be hiring a bankruptcy attorney.

Because conducting in-person interviews won’t be an option, you’ll want to consider asking friends, family, and other attorneys for referrals.

When contacting candidates, verify that the office can represent you while you’re in isolation, and provide necessary accommodations, such as:

  • phone or video conferencing for attorney/client meetings and document review
  • secure document portal for submitting and signing documents
  • the availability of a telephonic or video appearance at the 341 hearing (the one hearing all filers must attend).

Also, ask whether the office offers free initial phone consultations.

Todd Murphy Law Has All Virtual Options

Of course at Todd Murphy Law, we can do everything without a visit to the office and now that the trustees are conducting the 341 hearings by video conference, you’ll never have to leave your home.

Filing for Bankruptcy During the Coronavirus Outbreak

While in quarantine, you’ll rely on technology to communicate with your lawyer and paralegal as well as the court. You will need access to a computer, a printer, and a scanner or use one of the many scanner apps on your phone such as CamScanner.

Filing for bankruptcy is form-intensive work. We will ask you to complete a number of financial questionnaires. You’ll also need to gather together certain important financial documents that support your questionnaire answers (see a list here).

We have been working online without the need for an office visit for over five years so this isn’t new to us at all. We have developed secure systems that protect your private information and spend extra time on the phone with you so you know exactly what to do every step of the way.

For instance, we start the process by providing you with a link to a special page on our website where you can complete our proprietary questionnaires online and upload paycheck stubs, bank statements, and other documents needed when filing for bankruptcy.

Completing Required Bankruptcy Courses

You will also be required, as a prerequisite to filing bankruptcy, to complete the two required courses online – one before you file for bankruptcy and one afterward. You can access the courses on the same web page where you will find our questionnaires

Meeting With the Bankruptcy Lawyer Virtually Due to COVID-19

You can easily consult with your lawyer and paralegal several times before we file your case. The office can set up meetings by phone or through video conferencing.

On our initial consultation, you’ll ask questions, listen to the attorney’s assessment, and determine whether you want to file bankruptcy and we will advise you of your options. \

Reviewing the final petition. Once the bankruptcy petition is complete, the lawyer will go over it with you for accuracy. After agreeing that all of the information contained in the petition is true and correct, you must sign it under penalty of perjury – before it can be filed.

“Wet Signatures” Waived by the Courts Due to Coronavirus Concerns

New Jersey Bankruptcy courts have temporarily relaxed a rule requiring a bankruptcy attorney to obtain an original or “wet signature” on the bankruptcy petition before filing it online with the court. The relaxing of this rule is very beneficial to lawyers and clients alike during the coronavirus pandemic. It limits the amount of contact required before filing a case.

Telephonic/Video Conference 341 Meeting of Creditors During the Coronavirus Outbreak

After filing the case, every bankruptcy filer must appear at a hearing called the 341 meetings of creditors. The bankruptcy trustee checks your identification and asks questions about the petition under oath.

Trustees have already been ordered to stop conducting in-person meetings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, so the meeting requirement won’t be problematic for you. Hearings now take place by video conference.

We will give you the information you need to call into the meeting from home.

Court Closures During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Although courts in New Jersey, have closed physical locations as of the writing of this article, all have made provisions to continue operations.

See our other important notices on our CoronaVirus Resources page here.