FAQs for Debtors
Should I use a Document Preparer to assist me in filing bankruptcy?
There are agencies and individuals who run businesses which assist individuals in preparing legal documents for a fee. These agencies will help debtors by taking information supplied by the debtor(s) and creating the forms necessary for filing a bankruptcy case. They may be helpful to you in explaining general procedures. They are not attorneys and are not allowed to give legal advice as part of their services. They cannot represent debtors in court. Any fee paid to such entities must be reported to the court and cannot exceed a certain amount (Appendix IV)without court approval. If the services of a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer are used, the Preparer must completeForm B19; this form must be filed with the bankruptcy petition and schedules.
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 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 if I have an emergency filing after business hours?
To file an emergency bankruptcy petition with the Clerk after regular business hours, or for any other type of emergency filing, please refer to the emergency section of this Self Help Page on the website for instructions. For electronic filers, the CM/ECF system is available 24 hours a day.
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 is a ‘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 is the automatic stay?
The filing of a bankruptcy petition automatically stays (stops) most actions, including collections, foreclosures and repossessions, against the debtor or the debtor's property. It is called "automatic" because the stay begins automatically at the time the bankruptcy case is filed with the Clerk's office. Once the stay is in place, creditors are prohibited from taking certain actions against a debtor without court permission. Some creditors, particularly those involved with repossessions or foreclosures, may immediately file pleadings with the court to go forward with foreclosure or repossession actions. It is strongly recommended that you consult with a bankruptcy attorney to verify that the automatic stay is applicable to your specific circumstances!
What is the Bankruptcy Code?
First enacted in 1978 and substantially revised in 2005, the Bankruptcy Code contains the statutes (laws) that grant legal forgiveness of debt for businesses or individuals in financial difficulty. There are two primary types of bankruptcy relief available under the Code: liquidation (Chapter 7) or reorganization (Chapters 11, 12 and 13). These options are best discussed with a qualified attorney. The Bankruptcy Code is available on line at the court’s website, as well as at local law libraries. The text of the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Statute is also available on our website
What is the difference between Chapters 7, 11 & 13
Chapter 7: Often called the "liquidation chapter," Chapter 7 is used by individuals, partnerships, or corporations who have no hope for repairing their financial situation. In Chapter 7, the debtor's estate is liquidated under the rules of the Bankruptcy Code. Liquidation is the process through which the debtor's non-exempt property is sold for cash by a case trustee and the cash is distributed to creditors. At the conclusion of this process, individual debtors receive a discharge of their dischargeable debts.
Chapter 11: Often called the "reorganization chapter," Chapter 11 allows corporations, partnerships, and individuals to reorganize their debts, without having to liquidate all their assets. In a Chapter 11 case, the debtor presents a plan to creditors which, if accepted by the creditors and approved by the Court, will allow the debtor to reorganize personal, financial or business affairs and again become financially productive.
Chapter 13: An individual with regular income who is overcome by debts, but believes such debts can be repaid within a reasonable period of time, may file under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 13 permits the debtor to file a plan in which the debtor agrees to pay a certain percentage of future income to the Bankruptcy Court for payment to creditors. If the Court approves the plan, the debtor will be under the Court's protection while repaying such debts.
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.
Where can I get more information?
Where can I obtain the required bankruptcy forms?
If hiring an attorney is not possible, you can download the necessary bankruptcy filing forms from the Court’s website at the Court Forms menu item. The forms may also be printed at and purchased from the Bankruptcy Clerk's office for a minimal charge. If you come to the Clerk's office to purchase the bankruptcy forms, please bring cash or a money order; as personal checks are not accepted. Many local stationery and office supply stores also carry bankruptcy forms.
Where do I file / How do I file?
Once you have completed filling out the required bankruptcy petition, schedules, statement of affairs and creditor list, you may file these documents at the Bankruptcy Court Clerk’s office at 380 Westminster Street, 6th Floor, Providence, RI 02903, in person or through the mail provided that you supply the Court with a photo ID. In addition, in order for the Court to process your filing, you must accompany it with the required filing fee based on the chapter you are filing under (cashier’s check or money order only, no personal checks). The business hours and phone number for the Clerk’s office are posted on our website. Failure to submit all of the required documents will result in the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Dismiss with a short period of time to cure the deficiency.
Where do I go to look up legal terms used in bankruptcy?
There is a glossary of bankruptcy terms on our website. You can look up words used in bankruptcy that are not familiar to you there.