Bankruptcy Court Eases Requirements During COVID-19

Brooke Stephenson Barden

The world is feeling the impact of COVID-19 as every industry is having to adjust and learn how to function in the mist of the epidemic. The practice of law is no different. We are receiving daily e-mails from state courts, federal courts, title insurance agencies and many other associations with updates to scheduling and changes to procedures. As we continue to adapt our practices, there will be many ways we interact with clients and the courts that were previously forbidden.

The Bankruptcy Courts have recognized that there will be greater need for individuals to avail themselves with bankruptcy protection during this difficult time. The Bankruptcy Court has always required attorneys to meet with clients in person to gain their original “wet signature” on documents before filing a petition with the Bankruptcy Court. However, that practice exposes attorneys and clients to a greater risk during this pandemic. In response, Courts have stepped in and issued new orders to ease the requirements in order to make it easier for individuals struggling during this to file bankruptcy.

The Bankruptcy Court’s most recent orders dispense with the requirement that an attorney must have the client’s “wet signature” to submit the petition to the Court. Attorneys can now use a digital signature software or obtain the client’s written permission to affix their signature to the petition.

Bankruptcy Court

Standing Order 20-6: “For all documents that require a debtor’s signature, the Court suspends the requirement that an attorney secure the debtor’s original, physical signature prior to electronically filing such documents on the condition that, prior to the filing, the attorney has either (a) obtained the debtor’s digital signature via any commercially available digital signature software that provides signature authentication and maintains a copy of the digitally signed document(s) in the debtor’s case file; or (b) obtains written express permission from the debtor to affix the debtor’s signature to the document(s) and maintains a copy of the writing in the debtor’s case file…”

This new order allows individuals dealing with financial difficulties during this time to file bankruptcy without increasing their risk for contracting the illness.

At Smith, Barden & Wells, P.C. we are equipped to work remotely with clients on all matters. We are conducting telephonic consultations with our clients and ensuring that our clients do not experience any disruptions in their cases.

We are here to help you through this epidemic in any way we can. If you need to speak with an attorney about whether a bankruptcy is the right option for you, please call our office at (804) 794-8070 or email us at info@smithbardenwells.com.

 

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