What is a proof of claim?
We know that the decision to file for bankruptcy is a complicated and long process for most of our clients. We also know that most of our clients feel a huge sense of relief when they finally do make the decision to file, and even more so when the case is actually filed. For some people the fear of repossession or foreclosure is stopped and they can relax, for others it is just seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
Of course, there will be a substantial amount of paperwork to complete. Don’t let yourself stress to much about that. We will go over exactly what will be needed and break it down as much as possible. We do want to warn you that the paperwork doesn’t all stop once your case is filed. There will be a substantial amount of documentation after your file. Again, no need to worry about that too much. We read and monitor all documentation in your case and it is always available for your review if you would like to go through those documents.
Initially, one of the most important types of documents we will watch for are "proof of claims". Basically, this is just a written statement that notifies the bankruptcy court, the trustee, the debtor and his/her attorney, and any other potentially interested party that the creditor that has filed the proof of claim is asserting a right to distribution (money) from the bankruptcy estate. These are filed in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases. Creditors file proof of claims to ensure that they are paid, and the trustee will not make payments unless there is a valid proof of claim. Proof of claims are absolutely essential in a Chapter 13 case and Chapter 7 cases where there are assets.
So, this all sounds technical, right? Here is what you need to know. There are specific forms that are used for this and we review any proof of claim filed. We review it for accuracy, we review it to make sure none of your private information (i.e. social security number) appears on public documents, and to ensure that it matches the amounts and types of debt we have listed. If it does not we will discuss this. From there, you can either object to the claim if you think it is wrong or modify the plan to pay the correct amount.
There are time lines of when the proof of claims must be filed. They differ based on the type of debt. We will monitor this for you, but the practical impact is that creditors cannot generally come in at the end and insist on payment as long as they were properly notified of the bankruptcy.
If you have questions about this, or any other matter, contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today!