I just moved to Pennsylvania. Can I file bankruptcy here now?
I frequently get calls from people who have recently moved to the Pittsburgh area and want to immediately file a bankruptcy case.
They are generally impatient to file a case, but I have to caution them that they must follow the rules on where to file their case. The Bankruptcy Code requires that an individual can only file a bankruptcy case in the State in which they have resided the most over the past 180 days.
In other words, for most people, that would require them to wait 91 days after they've moved to Pennsylvania in order to file.
Unless you've got a true emergency, then it shouldn't be hard to wait 3 months to file. Once you retain a bankruptcy lawyer, then that lawyer should contact all of your prospective creditors to inform them that a case will be filed shortly. Moreover, you can use that time to help your attorney prepare your case. Your attorney will need to obtain copies of your last two tax returns, your recent bank statements as well as your last six months of paystubs.
One wrinkle in the Bankruptcy Code now is that the Court Trustee will be permitted to apply the exemption laws of the other states in which you've resided in the past 3 years. Bankruptcy exemptions refer to the laws that permit you to protect and retain your property, and those laws differ a great deal from State to State. The exemptions that we use in Pennsylvania are reasonably generous, so your lawyer will need to research the exemption laws in the other states in which you've resided in the past 3 years.
Let me know if you have a question or comment!