FAQs for Debtors
How are creditors notified of my bankruptcy filing?
A notice entitled “Notice of Chapter ____ Bankruptcy Case, Meeting of Creditors and Deadlines” is issued by the Court to the creditors listed on your creditor mailing list within 7 days of the filing, informing them of your case number, date of filing, social security number, the date of the Section 341 (creditor) meeting, and particular case deadlines. This notice is usually received by the creditors within a week of the filing.
Do I need to send a copy of the petition to anyone else?
No, unless you fail to include a required creditor on the mailing list. The Clerk's office will notify all the creditors you have listed on your creditor mailing list of your bankruptcy filing as well as your case trustee and the United States Trustee, by mailing a written notice to them described in the above answer. For this reason, it is very important that you provide complete addresses, including city, state and zip code, for each creditor on your creditor list. If you later determine that you have missed including a required creditor, you must file a motion to amend the creditor list and submit a new disk with only the added creditors names and addresses, include the requiredmiscellaneous fee (cash or money order) and serve a copy of the Court’s Section 341 Meeting Notice to Creditors on the added creditors.
How can I get immediate proof of my filing?
If you feel a more immediate notice of your bankruptcy must be given to a particular creditor, it is your responsibility to determine what type of notice is appropriate and give that notice to the creditor. A printed “Notice of Bankruptcy Filing” can be obtained from the Clerk’s office. This Notice has the Court seal, and the date and time of your filing.
What do you mean by ‘Creditor Mailing List?
The creditor mailing list is a list of the names and current addresses of your creditors and other parties that should receive notice of your bankruptcy. The list is prepared by the debtor and their attorney and must be filed at the same time the bankruptcy case is commenced. As a debtor, it is your responsibility to ensure you have listed current, valid addresses for your creditors. If mail sent by you or the Clerk's office regarding your case is returned as "undeliverable," it is your responsibility to find a valid address for the creditor and to notify the Clerk's office of the correct address. Additionally, if you obtain a different address for a creditor after you file your bankruptcy petition, you must notify the Clerk's office in writing of the new address. (See creditor list instructions). Failure to properly serve a creditor at their required address could result in that debt being held nondischargeable in bankruptcy.
It is also possible for creditors and other parties to add themselves to the creditor mailing list. Names may be added or changed when a creditor files a proof of claim in your bankruptcy case or files a notice of change of address. Attorneys who appear in your case on behalf of a creditor will also be added to the creditor mailing list.
What do I do if I forgot to include a creditor in my bankruptcy schedules? (Schedules D, E, and F)
If additional creditors need to be added to your bankruptcy schedules after filing, the applicable schedule (D, E, or F) must be amended. There is a miscellaneous fee to amend schedules D, E and F to add creditors or to change the amounts on these schedules. Amended schedule(s) listing the new creditors and/or any changes must be filed and signed under oath by the debtor(s). A certificate of service is also required indicating that the added creditor(s) have received a copy of the amended schedules and a copy of the Section 341 Meeting Notice. If a large number of creditors are being added, a new creditor mailing list is also required containing only the added creditors names and addresses. (See forms)
What if I need to amend schedules other than D, E or F?
All other schedules may be amended without a fee. Schedules are amended by submitting the new schedules entitled Amended, signed by the debtor(s), and clearly noting the nature of the amendment (change) using a bolded or italicized font, or underlining the change(s). (See forms)
What is a Section 341 Meeting or Meeting of Creditors?
The Section 341 Meeting (so-called after §341 of the Bankruptcy Code), also called the Meeting of Creditors or Creditors’ Meeting, is a meeting that a debtor is required to attend after filing for bankruptcy. The meeting is conducted by the case trustee or the U.S. Trustee. The Bankruptcy Judge does not attend this meeting. The 341 meetings are held at 380 Westminster St., Suite 620 Providence, R.I. The debtor must appear at this meeting and testify, under oath, about his/her financial condition, assets and liabilities. The debtor will be asked questions about the information contained in the bankruptcy paperwork filed with the court. Creditors may also attend this meeting and may question the debtor about his/her financial affairs. Generally however, most of the questions originate from the case trustee. If a debtor fails to attend this required meeting, the case trustee may seek to dismiss the bankruptcy case. A debtor cannot receive a discharge in bankruptcy without attending this meeting unless a special exception is granted by the U.S. Trustee.
The Creditor's Meeting is held between twenty (20) to forty (40) days after the bankruptcy case is commenced. Within about a week after the bankruptcy case is filed, the debtor will receive notice by mail of the date and time of the Creditor's Meeting. The debtor is required to bring certain identification information to this meeting (such as proof of identification, bank statements, tax returns, etc.)
What if I am unable to attend the Creditor's Meeting on the date/time scheduled?
If you are unable to attend the Creditor's Meeting on the date/time it is scheduled, you must contact the case trustee assigned to your case if a Chapter 7 or 13 case, or the local office of the U.S. Trustee if a Chapter 11 case as soon as possible, and request the matter be continued to another date/time. If you are unable to travel, you can make a written request to appear telephonically at your Creditors’ Meeting. The case trustee or U.S. Trustee will determine if your circumstances warrant an appearance by telephone. If you are serving in the military and will be out of state, consult the local office of the U.S. Trustee and/or the case trustee to determine how to proceed.
The Bankruptcy Clerk's office has no involvement in the scheduling of your Creditor's Meeting and therefore cannot assist you with any requested changes or telephonic requests. All questions concerning the Meeting of Creditors must be directed to the local office of the U.S. Trustee or to your case trustee.
What is the function of the U.S. Trustee and where are they located?
The Office of the United States Trustee is an Executive Branch agency that is part of the Department of Justice. It is primarily responsible for monitoring the administration of bankruptcy cases and detecting bankruptcy fraud. It is also responsible for appointing case trustees to administer Chapter 7 cases and a standing trustee to manage Chapter 13 cases. The U. S. Trustee also provides support and oversight to debtors who have filed under Chapter 11. The individuals appointed by the U.S. Trustee to serve as case or standing trustees in bankruptcy are appointed on a rotating basis and come from a list that changes over time.
The Rhode Island office of the U. S. Trustee is located at:
10 Dorrance Street, 9th Floor, Providence, R.I. (401) 528-5551.
How long does it take to complete the bankruptcy process and receive a discharge of debts?
Each case is different, but a general rule of thumb is that in a Chapter 7 case a debtor's discharge is usually entered between 90 to 120 days after the case was filed provided no objections to discharge are filed. Once the discharge is entered, the case is generally closed shortly thereafter. The entry of a discharge may take longer if a debtor's entitlement to the discharge is contested by the case trustee, creditors or other parties in interest. In a Chapter 13 case, a discharge is entered upon the successful completion of the repayment plan, usually between 36 to 60 months following bankruptcy. In Chapter 11, corporations and partnerships do not obtain a discharge but instead seek court approval of their plan of reorganization, which is known as plan confirmation. Once the confirmed plan is substantially consummated, a final decree will issue completing the bankruptcy process. This process may take several years to complete.
My case has been closed, but I need to file further documents – what do I do?
In order to file additional documents after your case is closed, you must first file a Motion to Reopen the case and pay the applicable re-opening fee. The Motion to Reopen must specifically state why the case is being sought to be re-opened. Additionally, if any creditors will be affected by the re-opening (such as adding new creditors), the debtor must also serve them with a copy of the Motion to Reopen. If the Court grants the Motion to Reopen, the debtor may then file the necessary documents.
My case was dismissed, what does that mean?
A dismissal order ends the case and removes it from bankruptcy jurisdiction. When the court dismisses a case, the ‘automatic stay’ is no longer in effect and creditors may start to collect on their debts again. Some types of dismissals – such as one for cause (failing to file required schedules and statements) may contain a 180-day bar to refiling. Unless the debtor appeals the dismissal or moves for reconsideration within 14 days of the order, the case will be automatically closed.
How long does a bankruptcy stay on my credit report?
A bankruptcy generally affects a persons credit rating for 7 to 10 years. However, this depends entirely on the individual credit reporting agency. The Bankruptcy Court has no influence on the type of information the credit bureaus report, nor on how long they keep it in their records. If you wish to review your credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
Under a new federal law, you have the right to receive a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Each agency's report on your credit may contain information from different creditors. To receive a free annual credit report, you can call or send a written request to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
PO Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
You can also contact the credit reporting agencies directly at:
Can I fax documents to the Clerk’s office for filing?
No. Faxed documents are not accepted for filing
I'm filing for bankruptcy protection but have discovered a lien against my property. What should I do?
A bankruptcy discharge will wipe out most unsecured debts, but does not remove liens which may exist against your property. Certain types of liens, such as judgment liens, may be set aside under certain circumstances based on provisions contained in the Bankruptcy Code. In order to seek to remove an eligible lien, you must file a Motion to Avoid Lien with the Court, stating the factual and legal basis supporting your motion and you must serve a copy of the motion on the creditor whose lien you are attempting to set aside as well as on the case trustee. A court order granting the motion is required to have it removed. Advice of counsel for actions to avoid liens is highly recommended.