Bankruptcy 101: The Proof of Claim

When you file for Chapter 7, 12, or 13 bankruptcy, your creditors must file a proof of claim before they can be paid from the bankruptcy estate. Some debts, like child support arrears and an income tax balance, are treated as priority obligations and paid first, which in some cases can leave other claimants with nothing. Secured creditors, such as automobile finance companies or mortgage lenders, must file a claim in order to be paid; but if they don’t, their lien on the property still remains valid. They simply lose their right to payment from your bankruptcy estate.

Information on the Proof of Claim Form

The proof of claim provides information about the nature of the debt (secured vs. unsecured) and how much you owe so that the bankruptcy trustee can determine how much they will receive, if anything. The form must contain the following information:

  • The name of the debtor
  • The case number
  • The name and address of the creditor
  • How much is owed
  • Whether the claim is secured or unsecured
  • Whether the claim has priority (for example, a child support obligation)

The creditor must also attach all documentation that supports its claim.

Informal Proof of Claim

Some courts will allow a creditor to present an informal proof of claim if these five requirements are met:

  • The claim is in writing
  • There is a demand against the bankruptcy estate
  • The claimant states their intention to hold the estate liable
  • The claim is filed with the bankruptcy court
  • Allowing the claim would be fair under the circumstances

Acceptance or rejection of a creditor’s informal claim is entirely at the bankruptcy court’s discretion.

Deadlines for Filing a Claim

For non-government creditors, the deadline for filing their proof of claim is 70 days after the date you file your bankruptcy petition. Government entities like the IRS have up to 180 days. Although it’s rare, the court may allow an extension if a creditor can show that extenuating circumstances apply.

Objecting to a Proof of Claim

If you or your trustee disagree with a creditor’s proof of claim, you can object to it. Common grounds for objection include:

  • An incorrect claim amount
  • The claim includes interest or penalties not permitted by law or the original agreement creating the debt
  • There was no supporting documentation
  • The claimant is falsely stating that the debt is priority or secured
  • There is reason to believe that the claim was filed to harass you

The party objecting to the claim must file a written objection with the court and serve a copy on the trustee, the debtor, and the claimant within at least 30 days before a hearing on the matter.

Contact an Oklahoma Bankruptcy Attorney

Submitting a proof of claim is one of the steps involved in an Oklahoma bankruptcy. At the Law Offices of B. David Sisson, we will support you from the moment your petition is filed until you receive your discharge. For more information or to schedule a consultation with Attorney David Sisson, please contact us.

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