What If I Forgot To Include A Debt In My Bankruptcy?

It seems to me that nearly every one of my clients has has this concern, but really, it’s no big deal.  It’s pretty common for one of my clients to receive a collection demand from a creditor that my client had long forgotten about *after* we filed the client’s bankruptcy case.  So here’s what we do:

If the bankruptcy case is still open, then I have my client send me the name and address of the creditor, along with the amount owed as of the bankruptcy filing date, and the approximate date or range of dates that my client incurred the debt.  I then prepare an Amended Schedule D, E or F (depending on whether this is a secured, priority, or unsecured debt), adding this additional debt to the bankruptcy.  There is a filing fee of $30 to revise Schedules D, E, or F, or the creditors’ matrix.  Once I receive the signed Amended Schedule back from my client, then I file it with the Bankruptcy Court.  Voila!  That’s it!

Now, if the bankruptcy case has been closed, then there is something else to consider.  Assuming that your case was a “no asset” case (the trustee did not receive any property from you), then technically, the forgotten debt was discharged in the bankruptcy, regardless of whether it was listed in the bankruptcy schedules.  Moreover, if you send the Notice of Bankruptcy and the Order of Discharge to the creditor, then the chances are pretty good that the creditor will back off.  Here is an excellent article by Alexander L. Edgar, Assistant United States Trustee, explaining the legal reasoning of why it is not necessary to reopen a closed “no asset” bankruptcy case to add a forgotten creditor.

Now, if your case was an “asset” case, and you had to turn over some of your property to the chapter 7 trustee, then in order to add another pre-bankruptcy debt to the bankruptcy, an additional, and more expensive step that must be taken before we can file the Amended Schedule.  Namely, we have to file a Motion to Reopen the client’s bankruptcy case, asking the court to reopen the case in order to include the forgotten debt.  There is a $260 filing fee to reopen chapter 7 cases.  Once the bankruptcy judge enters the order reopening the case, then all you need to do is file the amended schedule (along with the $30 filing fee).

Bear in mind that this only applies to debts incurred *before* the bankruptcy case was filed!  Debts incurred *after* your bankruptcy case was filed are not part of your bankruptcy case, and are not dischargeable in your bankruptcy case.

Posted in Bankruptcy


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