Are Courts Open During COVID-19?

courts during Covid-19COVID-19 has had far-reaching consequences, including the courts. Though the courts and legal services are considered “essential businesses” under the Washington state governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, there have many been changes to court operations during this time.

Bankruptcy Court: If you are preparing to file for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court is still accepting new cases. Petitions must be filed electronically online because the court is closed to visitors. All bankruptcy court dates (including 341 Meeting of Creditors) are being conducted via telephone until at least July 10, 2020 (this date may be extended). In response to the pandemic, bankruptcy courts, for the first time in recent memory, are allowing clients to forgo traditional ink-on-paper signatures, allowing bankruptcy attorneys to file petitions without meeting clients face-to-face.

Under normal circumstances, a person filing for bankruptcy must show up to court in person with two forms of identification (picture ID and proof of your social security number). During the coronavirus outbreak, courts are accepting scanned copies to verify a bankruptcy filer’s identity prior to a telephone hearing.

Probate Court: Similarly, probate courts are still accepting new cases, but courts are open very limited hours at this time. In Whatcom County (where our office is located) the local court clerk is open only two hours per day right now: 9-11am. Someone wanting to start a new probate case can drop off the paperwork with the court clerk and they will submit it to the judge for signature, forgoing the normal procedure of appearing in person before the judge to request opening of the probate case.

The courts are rapidly adapting to changing conditions surrounding COVID-19, and Limitless Law PLLC is working hard to change along with these evolving circumstances. If you have questions about a bankruptcy or probate case, rest assured we are still open for business and able to help with your case. You can still call us at (360) 685-0145 for a free 15-minute new client phone consultation. We’re here to help.

 

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