FAQs for Creditors
A company or individual has filed for bankruptcy and owes us money. What do we do?
If you have been listed as a creditor in the bankruptcy case, you will receive a written notice in the mail from the Clerk's office advising you of the case filing, the date for the Meeting of Creditors and any important case deadlines. This notice will also tell you whether or not you should file a claim in the bankruptcy case at that time, and the deadline for filing the claim if one is to be filed. The notice will also give you important deadlines for filing complaints to object to a debtor's discharge or dischargeability of certain debts
When should I file a Proof of Claim with the Court?
In virtually all Chapter 7 cases, the first notice you receive from the Clerk's office will tell you not to file a claim until told to do so at a later date. Upon examination of the debtor, if the case trustee believes the Chapter 7 case may have nonexempt assets available for distribution to creditors, he/she will notify the Clerk's office to send a special notice to creditors to file claims and establishing a claims filing deadline. If you receive a notice that sets a deadline for filing claims, you must timely file the proof of claim with the Clerk's office in order to be eligible to participate in any distribution in the case. If you are mailing your claim to the Clerk's office, you must ensure that it is received by the filing deadline in order to be considered timely filed. In Chapter 11 and 13 cases, the first notice you receive from the Clerk's office will contain a deadline for filing claims. If you want to participate in the debtor's repayment plan, you MUST file a proof of claim with the Clerk's office by the deadline indicated on the notice. Your claim must be received by the Clerk's office by this deadline (not mailed by that date).
If someone who owes you money has filed bankruptcy, but you have not received a written notice about the bankruptcy, you can submit to the Clerk's office a written Request to be Added to the Creditor Mailing List. Include your mailing address in this request so that the Clerk's office can add you to the creditor list and send you future notices about the debtor's bankruptcy case.
How do I file a claim?
If you have been listed as a creditor in a bankruptcy case, you will receive a written notice from the Clerk's office in the mail after the bankruptcy has been filed. The notice will tell you if there is a deadline for filing claims.
If the original notice you receive from the Clerk's office does not contain a deadline for filing proofs of claim (which is usually the case in Chapter 7 cases), you may subsequently receive a "Notice to File a Proof of Claim," if the trustee later determines that there are assets available for distribution in the case. This notice will also contain the deadline for filing claims with the court.
If you are informed of a claim deadline you may obtain one from the Clerk's office or download a proof of claim form from our website.
The claim form should be filled out completely and should include any attachments needed to support your claim. DO NOT SUBMIT ORIGINAL BACKUP DOCUMENTATION to support your claim; it will not be returned to you. The original claim must have your signature on it (not a stamp or copy). You must return the original of your completed claim, with all attachments, to the Clerk's office by the deadline for filing claims. This means the Clerk's office must receive the claim form by that date, not that you mail it by that date. You must also send a complete copy of your claim to the case trustee and to the debtor and their attorney. Their addresses will be included in the notice you receive from the Clerk's office.If you wish to have proof that your claim was timely filed, please bring an extra copy to the Clerk's Office. The clerk wil file stamp the extra copy and return it to you. If you are mailing it, please include an extra copy with a self-addressed, stamped envelope with enough postage to cover return mailing costs.
The Clerk will file stamp the extra copy and return it to you.
Requests for information regarding when a claim will be paid should be directed to the trustee assigned to the case, whose name and telephone number can be found on the Creditor’s Meeting Notice that you receive from the Clerk's office.
What is a 341 meeting, or “meeting of creditors”?
The “341(a) meeting” is sometimes called the “meeting of creditors” and gets its name from the Section of Title 11 of the United States Code where the requirements for the first meeting of creditors and equity security holders are found. It is also referred to as the “First Meeting of Creditors” or just “First Meeting”. The debtor (both spouses in a joint case) must be present at the meeting to be questioned under oath by the trustee and by creditors. Creditors are welcome to attend, but are not required to do so. The meeting may be continued and concluded at a later date without further notice.
What actions are creditors generally prohibited from taking?
Prohibited collection actions are listed in Bankruptcy Code §362. Common examples of prohibited actions include contacting the debtor by telephone, mail or otherwise to demand repayment; taking actions to collect money or obtain property from the debtor; repossessing the debtor's property; starting or continuing lawsuits or foreclosures; and garnishing or deducting from the debtor's wages. Under certain circumstances, the stay may be limited to 30 days or not exist at all, although the debtor can request the court to extend or impose a stay.
How do I file for relief from the automatic stay?
Once a debtor files bankruptcy, creditors generally can't continue proceedings against them, see 11 U.S.C. § 362(a). There are certain exceptions to this rule, however. In order for a party to continue a legal proceeding against the debtor that has been stayed because of the filing of bankruptcy, the party must first obtain an order from the Bankruptcy Court granting relief from the automatic stay.
In order to obtain relief from the automatic stay to continue collection action against the debtor, the party must file a Motion for Relief from Stay with the Bankruptcy Court along with R.I. Bankr. Form R, if applicable, (see R.I. LBR 4001-1), and pay the applicable filing fee. [This fee is not required if the moving party is a creditor seeking to collect child support, and the moving party has also filed Official Form B-281]. The motion must be served on the debtor, debtor(s) attorney, case trustee and other creditors and parties in interest. The legal authority for obtaining relief from stay can be found in section 362 of the Bankruptcy Code [11 U.S.C. § 362(d)].
After a motion for relief from stay has been properly noticed and the deadline for objections has expired:
- If no objections to the motion have been filed, the motion may be granted by rule of Court.
- If an objection is filed, a hearing will be held before any order granting or denying relief will be entered.
What is a Discharge of Debts?
The debtor is seeking a discharge of most debts, which may include your debt. A discharge means that you may never try to collect the debt from the debtor. If you believe that the debtor is not entitled to receive a discharge under Bankruptcy Code §727(a) or that a debt owed to you is not dischargeable under Bankruptcy Code §523(a)(2), (4), or (6), you must start a lawsuit by filing a complaint in the bankruptcy Clerk's office by the "Deadline to File a Complaint Objecting to Discharge of the Debtor or to Determine Dischargeability of Certain Debts" listed on the 341 notice that you received. The bankruptcy Clerk's office must receive the complaint and any required filing fee by that Deadline.
What is an adversary proceeding and when is an adversary proceeding required?
An adversary proceeding is a civil action within the bankruptcy case where a plaintiff sues one or more defendants. An adversary proceeding, as opposed to a motion, is required when a party seeks certain types of relief, such as a restraining order and injunction, denial of or exception to discharge, or for turnover of property. An adversary proceeding requires a filing fee. Click here for fees. The court will issue a summons which the plaintiff must serve on the defendant, who must respond to the complaint. The parties will conduct discovery, and the court will determine how to dispose of the complaint, either by summary disposition or after a trial.
I am a child support creditor. How can I determine whether my child support debt is nondischargeable?
Child support debts are excepted from discharge. If the nondischargeability of the debt is disputed by the debtor, the child support creditor may file an adversary proceeding to have the Bankruptcy Court determine whether the debt is, in fact, nondischargeable.
My ex-spouse has filed bankruptcy. He/she has listed me as a co-signer on a scheduled debt. What can I do? Does my divorce decree protect me?
If liable with a former spouse/debtor on a debt, the non-debtor former spouse should seek competent legal advice for a thorough explanation of his or her rights and obligations in this area as soon as he or she learns that the ex-spouse has filed a bankruptcy petition
I am a creditor in a chapter 7 asset case. How long before I can expect a dividend payment?
There is no simple answer to that question. The length of time before a dividend is received depends on the circumstances of the individual case because assets must be liquidated and claims evaluated prior to distribution. Creditors should contact the chapter 7 trustee and inquire when he or she expects to issue checks to creditors. The chapter 7 trustee's name and telephone number are on the notice of the section 341 meeting of creditors.
I have received a Notice and Summary of the chapter 7 trustee's Final Report and Account. How long will it be before I receive payment on my claim?
Once the trustee has filed his or her Final Report and Account, the Bankruptcy Court must hold the Report and Account for possible objections and, if an objection is filed, may hold a hearing on it. The trustee cannot distribute the funds to creditors until the objection is resolved. Typically, the trustee will distribute money to creditors approximately six to eight weeks after creditors receive the Notice and Summary of the Trustee's Final Report and Account, but the period may be longer. Further questions should be directed to the chapter 7 trustee, whose name and telephone number are on the notice of the section 341 meeting of creditors.
What is Exempt Property?
The debtor is permitted by law to keep certain property as exempt. Exempt property will not be sold and distributed to creditors. The debtor must file a list of all property claimed as exempt. You may inspect that list at the bankruptcy Clerk's office. If you believe that an exemption claimed by the debtor is not authorized by law, you may file an objection to that exemption. The bankruptcy Clerk's office must receive the objections by the "Deadline to Object to Exemptions" listed on the 341 notice you received.
Where is the Bankruptcy Clerk's Office located?
Any paper that you file in a bankruptcy case should be filed with the bankruptcy Clerk's office at: U.S. Bankruptcy Court, The Federal Center, 380 Westminster Street, 6th floor, Providence, RI 02903. You may inspect all papers filed, including the list of the debtor's property and debts and the list of the property claimed as exempt, at the bankruptcy Clerk's office.
What happens if the presumption of abuse arises?
If the presumption of abuse arises, creditors may have the right to file a motion to dismiss the case under § 707(b) of the Bankruptcy Code. The debtor may rebut the presumption by showing special circumstances.