FAQs: After Filing Bankruptcy

  • 341(A) Meeting Of Creditors, What Is It And Who Must Attend?

    A) Purpose of 341(a) Meeting - Soon after a bankruptcy case is filed, a meeting is held so that creditors and the trustee can ask questions about the debtor’s financial situation. This meeting is required by Bankruptcy Code section 341(a) and the meeting is presided over by either the trustee assigned to the case and/or a representative of the U.S. Trustee’s Office.

    B) Required Attendance – A debtor who is an individual must attend the 341(a) Meeting in person and may have an attorney present. If a debtor is a corporation or partnership, the debtor’s attorney and a responsible officer of the business must attend the meeting. If a debtor does not attend the 341(a) Meeting, the bankruptcy case may be dismissed.

    C) Time, Location - The Clerk’s Office mails a notice of the date, time, and location of the 341(a) Meeting to the debtor and to all creditors whose mailing addresses were listed in the bankruptcy petition package. The notice is titled “Notice of Chapter 7/11/13 Bankruptcy Case, Meeting of Creditors, Deadlines.”

    PLEASE PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE ADDRESS OF THE LOCATION of the 341(a) Meeting, as the bankruptcy court address may be different from the address of the 341(a) meeting location.

    See list of 341(a) Meeting Locations

    Directions to 341(a) Meeting Locations


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  • Attorney, What If Mine Is Not A Bankruptcy Attorney?

    An Attorney Who does Not Regularly Practice Bankruptcy law is often involved in a bankruptcy adversary proceeding because the attorney was involved in a lawsuit filed pre-petition or the attorney represented a creditor or had an existing relationship with another party in the past. This can present a significant learning curve for an attorney; however, the court expects that all attorneys appearing in adversary proceedings be informed of court procedures, statutes and rules. Inexperience with bankruptcy law is not a valid excuse for filing documents late or requesting a continuance of a court proceeding due to lack of preparation. An attorney should set aside time to become informed, to timely communicate with opposing attorneys, to file documents on time, and to prepare for court proceedings. If necessary, consult with a bankruptcy attorney or hire a bankruptcy attorney as co-counsel.


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  • Attorney, What If Mine Is Not Admitted To Practice In The Central District Of California?

    An Attorney Who is Not Admitted to Practice in the Central District of California can still represent a creditor in court by following the procedure to become admitted to the district court for the Central District of California. For more information, see Attorney Admission Requirements. All attorneys should read and shall be familiar with the Local Bankruptcy Rules on appearing in adversary proceedings, especially LBR 2090-1.

     


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  • Attorney, What If Mine Is Not Licensed In California?

    An Attorney Who is Not Licensed in California can still represent a creditor in this court by obtaining court approval to appear pro hac vice.  It may be difficult for the attorney to provide legal services due to travel and because in certain scenarios telephonic appearances at court hearings are not allowed. A local attorney must also be designated as co-counsel. All attorneys should read the Local Bankruptcy Rules, especially LBR 2090-1.

    Download Form: Application of Non-Resident Attorney to Appear in a Specific Case
    Download Form: Order on Application of Non-Resident Attorney to Appear in a Specific Case


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  • Bankruptcy Case Vs. Adversary Proceeding, What Is The Difference?

    An Adversary Proceeding is Different From the Main Bankruptcy Case - The main bankruptcy case involves a debtor and the creditors of that debtor, and the main bankruptcy case has its own separate electronic docket and case number. An "Adversary Proceeding" in bankruptcy court has the same meaning as a lawsuit in other courts. This means that one or more "plaintiff(s)" file a "complaint" against one or more "defendant(s)." In many situations an adversary proceeding is required if a plaintiff wants to obtain a particular type of relief. Consult Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure Rule 7001 to determine if a particular type of relief requires an adversary proceeding.

    When an adversary proceeding is commenced, the clerk's office starts a separate electronic docket to record all activity in the adversary proceeding. Each adversary proceeding has its own "adversary number" which can be found on the first page of the complaint, right below the main bankruptcy case number. An example is 2:AP:12-01501-VZ. This means an adversary proceeding (AP) filed in the Los Angeles division in calendar year 2012 and assigned to the Judge Vincent Zurzolo. After an adversary complaint is filed, the defendant has a specific deadline to file and serve a written response to the complaint, and then a series of pre-trial hearings/conferences take place until the lawsuit is settled, dismissed, or goes to trial.


    See Also:
    Case Number, What Does It Mean?
  • Bankruptcy Case, What Does A Debtor Have To Do After Starting A Case?

    After starting a bankruptcy case, a debtor must stay closely involved with all activities in a bankruptcy case until a discharge is received AND the bankruptcy case is closed. In some ways, bankruptcy is like a deal that Congress has made with a debtor. If a debtor follows the bankruptcy rules and meets certain financial tests, a debtor obtains debt relief. But if a debtor does not pay attention to the bankruptcy case and does not follow the bankruptcy rules, rights will be lost, benefits delayed, and if the bankruptcy case is closed without a discharge being entered, a debtor may have to pay extra to reopen the bankruptcy case to achieve the debt relief desired. In some situations a bankruptcy case may be dismissed. Some ways that a debtor must remain involved with the bankruptcy case are:

    A) Read all Mail Sent by the Court and Other Parties Related to the Bankruptcy Case – Pay close attention to all information sent by the court because a good way for a debtor to protect its rights is by staying informed about the bankruptcy case. For example:

    • The Court may notify a debtor that certain forms were not filed, and there will be a deadline for filing the forms to avoid dismissal of the case. Generally all information is required to be filed no later than 14 days after a bankruptcy case was opened, and if not filed, the bankruptcy case may be dismissed with an order barring the debtor from filing again for a specific period of time (i.e., 180 days or more).
    • A creditor may file a lawsuit to have its debt deemed non-dischargeable, and it is imperative that the complaint be answered within thirty (30) days of a summons being issued by the court.
    • A creditor may file a motion asking the judge to allow the creditor to take action against the debtor. The written notice of motion will indicate the deadline for filing a written response, usually fourteen (14) days before the hearing. 

    B) Notify the court of any change in mailing address -- If a debtor has a change of mailing address, it is the debtor's responsibility to promptly file a change of address form so that the Clerk's Office, trustee, and creditors know where to mail documents to the debtor. 

    Download Form: Change of Address  (The debtor should also mail a copy of the change of address form to the trustee, U.S. Trustee, and all creditors.)

    C) Understand the Concept of Due Process for all Parties – Due Process means that all parties must have the opportunity to prepare for the court hearing before the court makes a ruling. To prepare for a court hearing, a party must have time to prepare and review issues so that the party can determine the right action to take or which arguments to address. Bankruptcy court is not like television court programs. It is not appropriate to surprise the judge or surprise the trustee or creditor by showing up at a hearing with new witnesses or new evidence. The court only becomes involved when there are two sides that need a resolution. This means that the court AND the other party must be allowed to prepare for a court hearing. Therefore:

    • A debtor must be presented with evidence in time to respond with its own evidence;
    • A trustee or creditor must be presented with evidence in time to respond with its own evidence; and
    • The court must be provided with evidence from all parties far enough in advance of a court hearing so that the court can properly review and consider all arguments and evidence.
       

    D) Follow all Deadlines for Filing Documents and Submitting Evidence – When court hearings are scheduled or when the clerk's office is preparing to take action, a debtor will be sent a notice by the court, the trustee, or a creditor. The notice will clearly state the deadline for completing the action required, such as filing a document with the court, filing a written response to a motion, and/or mailing the response to the trustee or creditor. Therefore, pay close attention to deadlines for filing documents, deadlines for filing evidence to support a legal argument, and making court appearances because there may be serious financial consequences.

    • If there is a deadline for filing a document or other evidence (and serving it on the opposing party), that deadline is the date the document must be received by the court. If a debtor mails a document to the court, generally allow at least three business days so that it is timely received. The postmark date does not count. Generally, documents and evidence must be filed with the court AND mailed to the other party fourteen (14) days before a hearing.
    • Judges will generally not allow anyone to argue facts and the law at a hearing if the arguments were not written and timely filed and served on the opposing party.
    • Following deadlines gives the opposing party confidence that the debtor is involved and is acting responsibly and participating in the process. Communication is a good way to get the opposing party to be patient and work collaboratively.

    E) Promptly Communicate With Attorney – If a debtor has an attorney, and the attorney contacts the debtor about a court date or other papers that need to be filed, the debtor should call the attorney immediately. Do not wait until the last minute, as there are court deadlines that must be complied with, and it is not reasonable to expect the attorney to meet the deadline without a debtor's cooperation and information. Just because a debtor has an attorney does not mean that the court will reset hearing dates or give extra time to submit evidence and file documents. Failure to meet court deadlines or be present at court hearings can result in a bankruptcy case being dismissed or in the court granting a motion in favor of a creditor, EVEN IF A DEBTOR HAS AN ATTORNEY.

    F) Attend the Mandatory 341(a) Meeting of Creditors – Within thirty (30) to forty-five (45) days after a bankruptcy case is filed, the debtor must show up at the Office of the United States Trustee so that a trustee and creditors can ask questions about the debtor's financial situation. This meeting is required under section 341(a) of the Bankruptcy Code and is called a 341(a) Meeting of Creditors. The clerk's office mails a notice that contains the date, time, and location of the 341(a) Meeting.

    G) Attend all Court Hearings – Most court hearings are scheduled because a trustee or creditor filed a motion. If the court sets a hearing date to rule on a motion, the debtor should timely respond to the motion AND attend the hearing, regardless of whether or not the debtor has an attorney. 

    • At a court hearing, the judge generally will explain the ruling to a debtor, and if the debtor has filed a written motion or response, the judge will allow the debtor to state the debtor's position on the motion.
    • If a debtor has an attorney, this is an excellent time to talk with the attorney before and after the court hearing. Often a debtor has no defense to the motion. However, attending a court hearing is a good method for understanding the judge's ruling.
    • Often a debtor is not represented by an attorney, and therefore the debtor may need to talk with the judge to understand the impact of a ruling. This is important because often a judge's ruling will be made in a simple order that either "denies" or "grants" a motion, without any other explanation or reasoning. A debtor will NOT be able to obtain an explanation by calling the judge's staff, calling clerk's office staff, or writing a letter to the judge.

    H) Be Honest – Never hide information from the court or trustee and never be untruthful about details of financial condition. The bankruptcy case trustee, U.S. Trustee, or other parties can ask the court to deny a discharge of debts if a debtor provides false information. This may result in the loss of property and dismissal of a bankruptcy case without a discharge and loss of the bankruptcy case filing fee. The debtor may have transferred or given property to a friend or relative before or after the bankruptcy case was filed, and the court or trustee has the right to examine such transactions. Do not hide this information, as the bankruptcy court process is designed to benefit all creditors in a certain priority and plan for fairness. Sometimes property must be returned to the bankruptcy estate so that it can be distributed in accordance with these rules, and hiding information can be considered bankruptcy fraud and may result in criminal prosecution.


    See Also:
    Bankruptcy Case Vs. Adversary Proceeding, What Is The Difference?
    Hearing, Do All Motions Require One?
    Motion And Notice Of Motion, What Is It And Must A Response Be Filed?
  • Bankruptcy Petition Package, Do Debtors Need To Send Anyone A Copy?

    A debtor does not need to send a copy of its bankruptcy petition package to any creditors because the court will mail a notice of the bankruptcy case to all creditors listed in the debtor’s bankruptcy petition package. However, a debtor may wish to call or write to creditors who are taking action against a debtor (e.g. foreclosure, lawsuits, daily phone calls), or an agency that is executing on a judgment (e.g. sheriff). If so, a debtor should provide the creditor or sheriff with a bankruptcy case number or a conformed copy of the front page of the bankruptcy petition package.


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  • Case Number, What Does It Mean?

    When a bankruptcy case is filed, the clerk’s office starts an electronic docket to record all activity in the case and assigns the bankruptcy case a unique case number (combination of letters and numbers). Sometimes the Clerk’s Office will use a longer sequence of numbers and letters, and sometimes the clerk’s office will use a shorter sequence. A debtor, trustee, and other parties should use only the shorter sequence.

    A) Shortened Number of a Bankruptcy Case – A debtor, trustee, and other parties should use a shortened number when filing subsequent documents such as amended forms, motions, responses, adversary proceedings, proofs of claim, etc. The shortened number contains only the division, the year the bankruptcy case or adversary proceeding was filed, the five digit number of the bankruptcy case or adversary proceeding, and the two letters for the judge assigned to the case. When the court prepares orders after a judge makes a ruling, the shortened number will be found on the first page of the order. An example of a Shortened Number is 2:12-98751-VZ – This means that the bankruptcy case was filed in the Los Angeles Division in 2012 and was assigned to the Honorable Vincent Zurzolo.

    B) Complete Number of a Bankruptcy Case - The Complete Number is inserted by the clerk’s office on the electronic docket, the Notice of Bankruptcy Case, and Notice of Electronic Filing (“NEF”) receipts that CM/ECF users receive when a document is filed on the electronic docket. A complete bankruptcy case number consists of the court division in which the case was filed, the year of filing, the type of case, five additional digits, and the initials of the judge assigned to the case. An example of a Complete Number is: 2:11-BK-12345-SK, which indicates that the case was filed in the Los Angeles Division in 2011, is a bankruptcy case (not an adversary proceeding), is number 12345 in that year’s sequence, and is assigned to the Honorable Sandra R. Klein.


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  • Credit Report, How Do I Get A Bankruptcy Removed From My Report?

    Credit Report - In general, the Bankruptcy Court does not control the actions of credit reporting agencies. Debtors must directly contact credit reporting agencies to discuss how long a bankruptcy case remains on a credit report. If debtors have questions about this or have problems gaining cooperation from credit agencies, a debtor may contact the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center (CRC-240), Washington, D.C. 20580. The telephone number is (202) 326-2222. Here are general rules:

    Improper Involuntary Bankruptcy Case - If a party has improperly filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against a debtor, the bankruptcy court may enter an order prohibiting credit reporting agencies from reporting the bankruptcy on the debtor's credit report.

    Voluntary Bankruptcy Case - The Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1681 et seq., is the law that controls credit reporting agencies. The law states that credit reporting agencies may not report a bankruptcy case on a person's credit report after ten (10) years from the date the bankruptcy case is filed. Generally, bad credit information is removed after seven (7) years. The larger credit reporting agencies belong to an organization called the Associated Credit Bureaus. We are informed that the policy of the Associated Credit Bureaus is to remove successfully completed Chapter 13 cases from the credit report after seven (7) years to encourage debtors to file under this chapter.

    Publication from the Office of the U.S. Trustee: Informational Materials Regarding Your Credit Report Including How to Dispute Errors or Incorrect Information


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  • Creditor, How Do I Get The Money Owed To Me From Someone Who Has Filed For Bankruptcy?

    Creditors in bankruptcy cases have debts paid either by waiting for a distribution from the estate (unsecured creditors), by reclaiming property from the bankruptcy estate (secured creditors), or by obtaining a judgment that the debt is not dischargeable. The timing and procedure depend upon the chapter of the bankruptcy case. Requests for information regarding payment on a claim should be directed to the trustee assigned to the case.

    A) Secured Creditors and Motions for Relief From the Automatic Stay - Creditors whose debts are secured by real or personal property can try to reclaim the property from the bankruptcy estate. In most situations this requires the filing of a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay. The court has its own mandatory form motions regarding relief from the automatic stay, and these are titled “F 4001-1M” forms. The forms differ depending upon what type of property the creditor desires to reclaim. There are many procedural rules to follow, and the secured creditor must prove to the court that it is entitled to reclaim the property. It is highly recommended to consult a bankruptcy attorney to determine if the property can be reclaimed or if a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay is necessary.

    B) Creditors Involved in Lawsuits in Other Courts – Creditors who are involved in lawsuits with the debtor in other courts need permission to continue the lawsuit. In most situations this requires the filing of a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay. There are many procedural rules to follow, and the creditor must prove to the court that it is entitled to proceed with the lawsuit in another court. It is highly recommended to consult a bankruptcy attorney.

    Download Form: Notice of Motion and Motion for Relief From the Automatic Stay under 11 U.S.C. § 362  (Action in Non-Bankruptcy Forum)

    C) Unsecured Creditors and Adversary Proceedings to Determine Debts Non-dischargeable - Regardless of what chapter bankruptcy is filed and whether or not a debtor lists a creditor on the Schedules, a creditor can file an Adversary Proceeding to determine that a debt is not dischargeable. In an adversary proceeding, a creditor is required to prove to the court that the debt is non-dischargeable. There are many procedures and deadlines, and it is highly recommended that the creditor consult a bankruptcy attorney.

    D) Creditors Waiting for a Distribution from the Bankruptcy Estate – To get paid from a bankruptcy estate, it may be necessary to file a document titled “Proof of Claim.”

    (1) Obtaining a Proof of Claim Form

    In chapter 7 cases a Proof of Claim form may be included with the Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. See the Court Locator for the location of Clerk’s Offices where a Proof of Claim can be obtained in person. 

    (2) Filing a Proof of Claim -- When filing a Proof of Claim, be sure to attach photocopies of supporting documents to the original Proof of Claim form (NOTE: Do not send the “original” copies of the supporting documentation). A creditor may also send to the Clerk’s Office a letter with the creditor’s name and address, the debtor's name and bankruptcy case number, the amount owed to the creditor, the type of claim (secured, unsecured, priority), the date the debt was incurred, and any documentation that supports the claim. A creditor may need to file a Proof of Claim with the court within 90 days of the first date set for the 341(a) Meeting of Creditors, and possibly even earlier. To be aware of the applicable deadline, refer to Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure Rule 3002(c) and check for relevant court orders in the bankruptcy docket for the debtor who owes the money. An original and one copy of the Proof of Claim are required. If a creditor wishes to receive a conformed copy of the Proof of Claim, please enclose one extra copy of the Proof of Claim and a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

    (3) Deciding if a Creditor Needs to File a Proof of Claim -- Please consult the categories below to determine if you need to file a Proof of Claim or are allowed to file a Proof of Claim.

    Creditors Which are Listed on Debtor’s Schedules

    • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Cases – For Chapter 7 cases, if a creditor is listed in the Schedules and it appears that there will be a distribution for creditors, the clerk’s office will send a Proof of Claim at the beginning of the bankruptcy case along with the Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Meeting of Creditors, Deadlines. However, for many chapter 7 bankruptcy cases a distribution is not likely, and the same Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will specifically state that creditors should not file a Proof of Claim unless the court sends a follow-up notice.
    • Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Cases – For chapter 11 cases, it is not necessary to wait to receive the Notice of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, Meeting of Creditors, Deadlines before a creditor files a Proof of Claim. A notice that identifies a deadline for filing Proofs of Claims will be sent to all creditors.
    • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Cases - For chapter 13 cases, it is not necessary to wait to receive the Notice of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Meeting of Creditors, Deadlines before a creditor may file a Proof of Claim. In fact, creditors must file a Proof of Claim. Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases move quickly, and generally within the first two to three months, the court will conduct a Chapter 13 Plan confirmation hearing.

    Creditors Which are Not Listed on Debtor’s Schedules – Sometimes a debtor does not list all of its creditors. If a creditor is not listed on the debtor’s Schedules, the creditor can file a Proof of Claim to notify the court and other parties the amount of money that it is owed.

    Creditors Which Dispute the Claim Listed in Debtor’s Schedules – If a creditor disputes the amount of its claim that is listed in the debtor’s Schedules, the creditor must timely file a Proof of Claim to notify the court and other parties the amount of money that it is owed.

    NOTE: Filing a Proof of Claim may limit a creditor’s right to a jury trial if the creditor is sued by a trustee or a chapter 11 Debtor-in-Possession. It is important to consult a bankruptcy attorney.


    See Also:
    Bankruptcy Case Vs. Adversary Proceeding, What Is The Difference?
    Relief From The Automatic Stay, How Do Creditors File This?
  • Creditors, How Does The Court Notify Creditors A Bankruptcy Case Has Been Filed?

    Very soon after the bankruptcy petition is filed, the clerk's office mails a notice to creditors that a debtor has filed for bankruptcy. This notice is titled “Notice of Chapter 7/11/13 Bankruptcy Case, Meeting of Creditors, Deadlines.” A debtor must list all of its creditors when filing the bankruptcy petition package so that each creditor is aware of the bankruptcy. The court only mails a notice to creditors that are listed; therefore, a debtor must insure that all creditors are listed. Generally, creditors are shown in two places in a petition package:

    A) Schedules - Creditors should be found on the proper Schedules according to the type of debt.

    List of Schedules and descriptions of the types of debt for each Schedule.

    B) Master Mailing List - Creditors should be found in alphabetical order on the Master Mailing Matrix with the correct street address, city, state, and zip code for each creditor.


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  • Deadlines And Procedures For Adversary Proceedings, Are There Any?

    Deadlines - Prosecuting or defending an adversary proceeding is complicated, and there are many important deadlines for filing a complaint, serving a Summons, responding to the complaint, completing discovery, filing pre-trial motions, and other activities in the lawsuit. These rules are found in the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure 7000 series and Local Bankruptcy Rules. It is highly recommended that a party hire a bankruptcy attorney, and even when an attorney is involved, the actual party (plaintiff/defendant/other) should pay close attention to all activities in the lawsuit so that there is adequate time to prepare for deadlines and court dates (status conferences, hearings on motions, pre-trial conferences, trial). Complaints to determine dischargeability of debts and to deny a discharge must be filed very soon after the bankruptcy case is filed, and the deadline for filing such complaints is specified in the Notice of Chapter 7/11/13 Bankruptcy, Meeting of Creditors, Deadlines that the clerk's office mails to creditors right after a bankruptcy case is filed.

    Special Procedures of Judges - Individual judges have special procedures related to adversary proceedings. These procedures may include the format for preparing and filing status conference reports and pre-trial stipulations, trial procedures, and treatment of witnesses and other evidence.


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  • Discharge, Does Every Debtor Get Discharged Of Every Debt?

    A discharge is a court order that forgives a debtor of certain specific debts. The discharge order prohibits a creditor from attempting to collect from a debtor a debt that has been discharged. However, not all debts are dischargeable. Parties can file written requests (adversary complaints) to have the court determine if a debt is dischargeable.

    A) Creditor, Trustee, or U.S. Trustee Asks the Court to Determine if There is a Discharge

    1) Some unsecured debts are not dischargeable because Congress has determined they are types of debts that should not be discharged because of public policy reasons. These debts are listed in Section 523 of the Bankruptcy Code and usually require that a debtor prove the debt should not be discharged. Examples are:

    • spousal and child support obligations;
    • certain tax debts;
    • most educational loans;
    • debts related to injuries or death caused by driving while intoxicated; and
    • debts arising from fraudulent conduct.

    2) It is also possible for a debtor to be denied a discharge of all unsecured debts if a debtor has not been honest, forthcoming, or cooperative in the bankruptcy case. These scenarios are listed in Section 727 of the Bankruptcy Code and usually involve the U.S. Trustee, a trustee, or a creditor filing a lawsuit in a chapter 7 bankruptcy case to determine that the debtor should be totally denied a discharge.

    3) Debts that are secured by real or personal property are not dischargeable. For example, a creditor may be able to seize property even after a discharge is granted because the debtor has not kept up with payments. Even though the creditor may not collect on the unsecured portion of the debt, the property can still be foreclosed upon (residence, automobile, etc.).

    B) Debtor asks the court to determine if a debt can be discharged -- Some creditors have obtained court judgments, and then filed a "lien" which can be used to sell property of the debtor. In some situations, a debtor may file a motion asking the court to remove such a lien. Also, a debtor may file an adversary proceeding asking the court to rule that other debts are dischargeable.


    See Also:
    Motion And Notice Of Motion, What Is It And Must A Response Be Filed?
    Bankruptcy Case Vs. Adversary Proceeding, What Is The Difference?
  • Discharge, How Do I Find Out Which Debts Were Included?

    The discharge order sent by the Clerk's Office will contain a general statement about the categories of debts that are discharged. The individual debts that are discharged will not be listed on the discharge order. Instead, the discharge order will provide that debts are discharged UNLESS there has been a separate order denying a discharge of a specific debt. If there are no such orders, the debtor can assume that it received a discharge of all debts which fall into the categories indicated in the discharge order. See Bankruptcy Code Sections 523, 727(b), 1141 and 1328(a) and consult a bankruptcy attorney for more information on categories of debts that qualify for a discharge in chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy cases.


    See Also:
    Discharge, How Do I Get A Copy?
  • Discharge, How Do I Get A Copy?

    Copy Sent By Clerk's Office: The Clerk's Office will mail a copy of the discharge to the debtor, the case trustee, and all creditors. The discharge will be mailed to the addresses shown in the debtor's list of creditors or in the schedules, whichever is filed later.

    Request a Copy Later - Copies of a discharge may be obtained using the same process used to obtain copies of any other document filed in a bankruptcy case. For information about obtaining copies of documents. 


    See Also:
    Bankruptcy Case, What If The One I Am Interested In Has Been Archived?
    Copies, How Do I Get Non-Certified Copies Of Documents?
    Document, How Do I Get Certified Copy?
    Document, What If The One I Need Is Not On The Electronic Docket?
  • Discharge, When Is It Entered?

    A) In chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, the entry date of a discharge on the case docket depends upon whether a trustee or creditor objects to the debtor receiving a discharge. For information about non-dischargeability issues and proceedings, consult Bankruptcy Code Section 727 and Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure Rule 4004.

    (1) The earliest date that a discharge will be entered on the case docket is shortly after the sixtieth (60th) day following the first date set for the 341(a) Meeting of Creditors. Under Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure Rule 4004, a trustee or creditors have sixty (60) days after the first date set for the 341(a) Meeting of Creditors to file a complaint objecting to discharge. This sixty (60) day period ensures that a trustee and creditors have sufficient time to conduct investigations, and the court may extend the deadline if an appropriate motion to extend the filing deadline is filed before the sixty (60) day period expires.

    (2) The later date that a discharge will be entered is after other actions are taken, such as:

    1. A trustee or creditor can delay the entry of a discharge order by filing a complaint (adversary proceeding) objecting to the discharge within the sixty (60) day period mentioned above or by getting the court to extend the sixty (60) day deadline;
    2. A creditor or debtor can delay by filing a reaffirmation agreement;
    3. An individual debtor will cause a delay by not filing Certification of Completion of Instructional Course
    4. Concerning Personal Financial Management (Form 23). For requirements for filing proof of completion of the Certification of Completion of Instructional Course Concerning Personal Financial Management; and
    5. The U.S. Trustee filed a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy case under Bankruptcy Code Section 707(b), and the motion is still pending.

    (3) A discharge will not be entered in a chapter 7 case if:

    B) In Chapter 11 cases, if the debtor is an individual, a discharge may be entered once the debtor has completed making payments under the Chapter 11 plan. If the debtor is not an individual, the debtor must be entitled to a discharge, and if so, a discharge order may be entered once the Chapter 11 Plan is confirmed. For more information, see Bankruptcy Code Section 1141 and consult a bankruptcy attorney.

    C) In Chapter 13 cases, a discharge is usually entered once the debtor has completed making payments to creditors in accordance with the terms of the debtor's Chapter 13 Plan and the debtor has filed the Certification of Completion of Instructional Course Concerning Personal Financial Management (Form 23). For requirements for filing the Certification of Completion of Instructional Course Concerning Personal Financial Management, see FAQ Before Filing #16. Also see Bankruptcy Code Section 1328. In limited circumstances a debtor may be granted a discharge despite not complying with discharge rules. This is called a "hardship discharge." See section 1328(b) of the Bankruptcy Code. An attorney should be consulted to determine if this exception applies.

    Download Form:  Official Form 23


    See Also:
    Personal Financial Management Certificate, Do I Need To File This?
    Prior Bankruptcy, If I Had A Prior Bankruptcy, How Soon Can I Get Another Discharge?
  • Dismiss Or Convert A Bankruptcy Case, Can The Court Do This Without The Debtor's Consent?

    If a debtor is not complying with bankruptcy requirements, a trustee or creditor can file a motion to dismiss or convert a bankruptcy case under Bankruptcy Code Sections 706, 707, 1112 or 1307, or the court can set an Order to Show Cause re Dismissal/Conversion.

    DISMISSAL HAS SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES. If a bankruptcy case is dismissed at the request of a trustee or creditor, or by the court on its own motion, the debtor may be prohibited from filing another bankruptcy case for 180 days [Bankruptcy Code Section 109(g)] or be required to file a motion to obtain permission to file another bankruptcy case (Bankruptcy Code Section 349).


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  • Dismiss Or Convert A Bankruptcy Case, Can The Debtor Voluntarily Do This?

    A) Voluntary Dismissal – A debtor can file a motion to voluntarily dismiss the bankruptcy case, but the court may or may not approve the dismissal depending upon the chapter number of the bankruptcy case and the prior history of the debtor in bankruptcy. IMPORTANT NOTE: Dismissal of a bankruptcy case has serious consequences. For example, if a bankruptcy case is voluntarily dismissed, it may affect a debtor's rights to the Automatic Stay in a future bankruptcy case. It is highly recommended to consult a bankruptcy attorney.

    Chapter 7 – See Bankruptcy Code Section 707 – Because a trustee is appointed, the trustee may file an objection to a request for voluntary dismissal, and a hearing is required.

    Chapter 11 – See Bankruptcy Code Section 1112 – A debtor's request to dismiss requires a motion and an opportunity for a hearing.

    Chapter 13 – See Bankruptcy Code Section 1307 – A debtor has a right to dismiss its Chapter 13 bankruptcy case if the bankruptcy began as a Chapter 13 case, but the court may place restrictions on a debtor's ability to file a subsequent bankruptcy case.

    B) Voluntary Conversion to Another Chapter – A debtor can file a motion to voluntarily convert its case to a case under a different bankruptcy chapter. IMPORTANT NOTE: When any bankruptcy case is converted, there are new responsibilities and deadlines for filing case commencement documents, and the debtor must attend a new 341(a) meeting of creditors. It is highly recommended to consult a bankruptcy attorney about the impact of converting a bankruptcy case.

    Chapter 7 – See Bankruptcy Code Section 706.

    Download Form Motion to Convert under 706(a)
    Download Form Notice of Motion to Convert under 706(a)
    Download Form Order to Convert

    Chapter 11 – See Bankruptcy Code Section 1112(a).

    Download Form Motion to Convert under 1112(a)
    Download Form Order to Convert under 1112(a)

    Chapter 13 – See Bankruptcy Code Sections 1307(a) and 1307(g).

    To convert a Chapter 13 case to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, the debtor must file a motion and schedule a hearing for the court to rule on its motion.


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  • Dismissal, Conversion & Closing Of A Bankruptcy Case, What Are The Differences Between Them?

    A) Dismissal vs. Closing of a Bankruptcy Case -- The main differences between dismissal and closing of a bankruptcy case involve discharge, ability to file another bankruptcy case, and the consequences of filing another bankruptcy case.

    1. Dismissal of a Bankruptcy Case – Dismissal ordinarily means that the court stopped all proceedings in the main bankruptcy case AND in all adversary proceedings, and a discharge order was not entered. Dismissal can occur because a debtor requested the dismissal and qualifies for voluntary dismissal. Dismissal can also occur without a debtor's consent if the court orders dismissal on its own, or a trustee or a creditor files a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy case and the court grants the motion. See related FAQs below.
    2. Closing of a Bankruptcy Case – Closing means that all activity in the main bankruptcy case is completed. This means that all motions have already been ruled upon, and if a trustee was appointed, the trustee has filed a statement that all trustee duties have been completed.  See related FAQs below.

    Closing does not mean that a discharge was entered unless all activities related to determining discharge have been completed. If a bankruptcy case is closed without a discharge because an individual debtor did not timely file a Certificate of Completion of Instructional Course Concerning Personal Financial Management, a debtor must file a Motion to Reopen the Case.

    Closing does not necessarily mean that all adversary proceedings are finished. For information about adversary proceedings, see related FAQs below.

    B) Conversion to Another Bankruptcy Chapter – Conversion means that the court has approved changing a bankruptcy case from one chapter to another chapter. Conversion may be requested by a debtor, by a trustee or creditor, or be independently ordered by the court. Sometimes conversion is automatically approved, and in other situations it is disallowed or requires a court hearing to approve a motion to convert. In some ways, conversion starts the bankruptcy case over because there are different rights and duties for the debtor and creditors. In other ways, conversion continues activities that are already taking place. It is highly recommended to consult a bankruptcy attorney to discuss a debtor's right to convert to another chapter and the impact of conversion. See related FAQs below.

     


    See Also:
    Deadlines And Procedures For Adversary Proceedings, Are There Any?
    Lawsuit, Can One Be Filed After The Bankruptcy Case Is Filed?
    Dismiss Or Convert A Bankruptcy Case, Can The Court Do This Without The Debtor's Consent?
    Dismiss Or Convert A Bankruptcy Case, Can The Debtor Voluntarily Do This?
    Discharge, How Do I Get A Copy?
    Reopen A Bankruptcy Case, How Do I Do This And Is A Fee Required?
    Lawsuit, What If One Was Filed Before The Bankruptcy Case Was Filed?
    Dismissal, Conversion & Closing Of A Bankruptcy Case, What Are The Differences Between Them?
  • Documents, How Do I Amend Documents I Have Filed With The Court?

    It is a debtor’s duty to ensure that the information provided in the bankruptcy petition package (Petition and other forms) is correct. This means that the correct “form” must be used, and the form must contain correct information. If a debtor needs to filed an amended document because the debtor filed the incorrect version of a form or inserted inaccurate information on a correct version of a form, a debtor must take four or five steps:

    A) File With the Court the Document that Contains the Amended Information (Schedule, Statement, etc.) – If an incorrect or outdated version of a form was used, prepare, sign and file the correct version of the form. If the correct version of a form was used, but the information inserted on the form is not accurate, prepare, sign and file the form with the revised information;

    B) File With the Court a Form Titled “Amendment of Schedule(s) And/Or Statement(s).” This form should be filed at the same time that the amended document is filed, and is available at any Clerk's Office location or download below.  

    C) Pay a fee Click here to determine the fee required.

    D) Mail a copy of the amended document and Amendment of Schedules(s) And/Or Statement(s) to all creditors.

    E) File an Electronic Filing Declaration – If the debtor’s attorney files an amendment via CM/ECF, it may be necessary for the debtor to sign and date a new Electronic Filing Declaration. 

    If a debtor has a change of mailing address, it is the debtor's responsibility to promptly file a change of address form so that the clerk’s office, trustee, and creditors know where to mail documents for the debtor.

    Download Form: Amended Schedule(s) and/or Statement(s)

    Download Form: Electronic Filing Declaration

    Download Form: Change of Address (The debtor should also mail a copy of the change of address form to all creditors.)

     

     

     


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