How to File a Claim in Bankruptcy Court

Three Parts:Preparing to File a ClaimFiling the ClaimDefending Against an Objection

When a business or person files for bankruptcy, all attempts at collecting on a debt are automatically stayed. If you are an entity’s creditor and you try to collect after the stay has been entered, you would be subject to penalties yourself. In order to get paid from the bankrupt party’s estate, you need to file a claim in bankruptcy court.

Part 1
Preparing to File a Claim

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    Understand bankruptcy. The bankruptcy process was created so that a debtor who is insolvent can pay debts in an orderly manner and have any remaining unpaid debts forgiven. In the United States, there are many different kinds of bankruptcy depending on who the debtor is and what the debtor is attempting to accomplish. In the U.S., the most common are Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13.
    • In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a “trustee” is appointed who will liquidate an estate to pay off debts. Although some property is exempt (e.g., your clothes, car, etc.), the trustee is empowered to sell the remaining assets and try to cover as much debts as possible. Whatever debts remain unpaid are ultimately forgiven. Chapter 7 is used by individuals as well as by businesses that will not reorganize.[1]
    • In a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a debtor attempts to reorganize. Used almost exclusively by businesses, it allows the business to get out from under its debts so that it can continue on as a going concern.[2]
    • In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the debtor retains property and tries to reorganize his or her debts so that future payments can be made. The debtor proposes a repayment plan, and the amount to be repaid will be calculated according to how much the debtor makes, how much is owed, and other factors.[3] Chapter 13 can only be used by individuals, but can be used to restructure personal debts or the debts of a sole proprietorship.[4]
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    Receive notice of the automatic stay. When the debtor files for bankruptcy protection, the clerk will immediately send out notices to the debtor’s creditors. You will receive the notice in the mail. This notice is called the “automatic stay.”
    • The automatic stay prevents all creditors from trying to collect on their debt. It takes effect immediately. If you violate it, then you can be sued by the debtor.[5]
    • The automatic stay does not affect all debts. For example, it does not affect child support. It also does not stop someone from collecting on a debt if the loan was made after the debtor sought bankruptcy protection.[6]
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    Halt your collection efforts immediately. With the automatic stay in place, you must stop all of your collection efforts. Accordingly, you should not:
    • Send out statements to the debtor requesting repayment.
    • Contact the debtor in any way to discuss repayment of the debt.
    • Have a third party contact the debtor about your debt.
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    Calculate how much you are owed. To receive payment on your debt, you will need to submit a claim to the bankruptcy court. You make that claim by filing a proof of claim. As a necessary first step, you should calculate how much is owed to you.
    • You also cannot keep any money the debtor may have sent to you after filing for bankruptcy. Once the debtor files for bankruptcy, it cannot pick and choose which debts to repay. If you receive payment after the debtor has filed, then you should consult with a lawyer about who the money should be returned to.
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    Meet with a bankruptcy lawyer. Bankruptcy law is complex, and rules differ slightly depending on which bankruptcy court the debtor has filed with. For this reason, you should meet with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer to discuss your situation. To find an experienced bankruptcy lawyer, you should visit your state’s bar association website, which should run a referral program. When you meet with a lawyer, you should discuss the following:
    • Whether or not you even want to file a claim. If you file a claim, then you forfeit the right to sue the debtor in court on the debt.
    • Whether the debtor procured the loan from you through fraud or misrepresentation. If so, you might have different remedies than simply filing for a claim.
    • If you have a security interest, then how to preserve that interest.

Part 2
Filing the Claim

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    Find the form. You can use an official form, B10, created by the federal courts to make your claim. The form is available for download at
    • The instructions are also attached to the form in the download. You should read the instructions before attempting to complete the form.
    • Because the form is scheduled to be updated on December 1, 2015, make sure that you have the most recent form.[7] You can check by looking at the date on the upper left-hand corner.
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    Complete the form. If you download the form, you can fill it in on your computer. Alternately, you could print off the form and either use a typewriter or write legibly with black ink.
    • Complete any required attachments or supplements. For example, you must complete Attachment A if your claim is secured by a security interest in the debtor’s principal residence.
    • If you have a security interest in a principal residence, then you may also need to complete Supplement 2, “Notice of Postpetition Mortgage Fees, Expenses, and Charges.”
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    Gather supporting documentation. Along with the proof of claim form, you need to submit documentation that establishes the debt and/or security interest. If the debt was created by a written instrument (such as a loan agreement), it must be filed along with the proof of claim.[8]
    • You must also include any documents that show how interests or fees were computed and included in the claim.[9]
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    Submit the proof of claim form. There is no one method for submitting your proof of claim. For example, you might be required to mail it to a bankruptcy claims agent. Alternately, you might have to file electronically with the clerk. To check which method you should use, find your Notice of Bar date, which should inform you of how to file.[10]
    • To use Electronic Court Filing (ECF), you will need to contact the court. To gain access, you need a login and password. Generally, these are reserved for only attorneys and trustees. If an individual court has chosen to allow bankruptcy claimants to file electronically, then it will share instructions for how to do so.[11]
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    File in a timely manner. The Bankruptcy Code sets strict rules for when you must file your proof of claim. When the debtor enters Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 protection, then the proof of claim must be filed within 90 days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors.[12]
    • In a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a proof of claim must be filed by the time set by the court.[13]

Part 3
Defending Against an Objection

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    Receive notice of the objection. A debtor or other party in interest (such as the trustee or another creditor) may object to your claim.[14] For example, they might challenge the amount of the claim, the lack of supporting documentation, or the classification of the claim as secured or priority debt.[15]
    • To object, the debtor will file an objection and get a hearing date. You will then be served notice of the objection and the date for the hearing.
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    Draft a response to the objection. Once you receive notice of the objection, you will be provided an amount of time to respond, often 30 days. If you don’t respond in time, then the objection will be upheld.[16][17]
    • To find a sample of what a response to a claim objection looks like, type “response to claim objection pdf” in a web browser and look at examples that already have been filed in federal court.
    • Also include a Certificate of Service. The certificate will state how and when you gave notice to the other parties in the case. You will see the certificate of service included in any sample response that you find.
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    File. If you have an attorney, he or she will file for you. If not, then you can file electronically (if given access) or by going to the courthouse.
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    Serve notice. You will need to serve a copy of your response to the objection on the debtor or the debtor’s lawyer, the Trustee, and the U.S. Trustee.[18]
    • In federal bankruptcy court, you can serve notice of the response by first class mail. You should mail a copy to the person’s last known address.[19][20]
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    Prepare for the hearing. You can prepare for the hearing by reviewing all of the paperwork that you have related to the debt. For example, you can take out your security agreement or loan agreement. You should also collect evidence of what has been paid to you already.
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    Attend the hearing. A properly filed claim is presumed to be valid. At the hearing, the party objecting to the claim has the burden of rebutting this validity. If the objector succeeds, then you must establish the validity of the claim by a preponderance of the evidence.[21] You should think about hiring a lawyer to help you, especially if the amount at issue is large.[22]
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    Receive the judge’s decision. After hearing all of the evidence, the judge will either allow your claim, disallow your claim, or modify it.[23] A modification might happen if you entered the wrong amount owed to you on your proof of claim form.
    • If you are unhappy with the judge’s decision, you can ask the court to reconsider.[24] However, you are unlikely to prevail on reconsideration unless you have new evidence to present to the court.


  • Because the bankruptcy code does not establish a bar date for filing objections, an objection to a claim can be filed years after you submit the claim.[25] Accordingly, you should follow the bankruptcy proceedings rather closely until you are paid.

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Categories: Bankruptcy