Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What to do when you receive a Notice of Bankruptcy? Step 3: Identify Deadlines.

If you receive a Notice of Bankruptcy, it will contain certain deadlines and meeting dates.  The sample below shows where some of those deadlines will appear:

These dates are important because they limit what you can and cannot do in a case, and if you miss any of these deadlines you may have given up your rights to make certain objections or claims.  You should read the Notice carefully to make sure you understand all of the information contained therein.  To highlight some of these limits we have indicated them with red arrows in the sample Notice above.

Some of the important dates and limitations that appear on the Notice are as follows, in descending order as they appear on the Notice:

The date of filing:  This is the date that the debtors case was filed with the court and some of the other dates will depend on this date.

The meeting of creditors:  This is the date that the Section 341 Meeting of Creditors is first scheduled to take place.  The Creditor's Meeting is scheduled about 30 to 45 days after the bankruptcy petition is filed. At least seven days before this meeting, the debtor is required to provide to the trustee and any creditor requesting it a copy of their most recently filed tax returns and proof of income for the most recent 90-day period. The court-appointed Chapter 7 trustee will preside over this meeting. At the meeting, which the debtor is required to attend, the debtor will be asked to testify under oath as to the accuracy of the statements in the petition. Creditors have a right to attend this meeting and ask questions, though they are not required to.

Deadline to object to discharge or to challenge the dischargeability of certain debts:  
A creditor may object to the discharge of amounts owed to them by the debtor under certain circumstances. If a creditor objects to the discharge of any of the debts listed in the petition or schedules, such objection must be raised within 60 days after the first scheduled §341(a) Meeting of Creditors.  If you do not raise such an objection in a timely manner you risk waiving that right and having any such debt discharged.

Deadline to object to exemptions:  Certain property claimed by the debtor to be exempt (not reachable by creditors), may be claimed as exempt in error.  If that is the case, then that property might be used to pay creditors.  Once the §341(a) Meeting is concluded, creditors only have 30 days to object to these exemptions after which the trustee may (and likely will) release all of this exempted property back to the debtor.

Deadline for financial management course:  The debtor must take a financial management course within 60 days after the first scheduled §341(a) Meeting of Creditors, and if they don't they might not receive their discharge.

Automatic Stay: Immediately upon the filing date, an automatic stay prevents creditors from taking certain actions against the debtor.  If you violate the automatic stay you may be subject to sanctions and fines by the bankruptcy court.  You should ensure that you do not take any action against the debtor after the filing date without consulting with a bankruptcy attorney to ensure that you are not violating the automatic stay.

There may be other deadlines in cases that are different from the Chapter 7 no asset case in our example.  For example, in a case with assets there will also be a deadline for filing a Proof of Claim.    To ensure that you know all of the deadlines and meeting dates read your Notice carefully.

Once you understand what your deadlines are, the next step is to identify: What is your exposure to liability if the debtor receives their discharge?

1 comment:

  1. Employing a bankruptcy attorney is a good idea, as he or she will be able to advise the creditor on the status of the debt, and what the creditor is likely to recover. If the debt is very low priority, and for a small amount, it is probably not worth the time and expense to file a claim with the bankruptcy court. If the debt is non-dischargeable, however, priority is irrelevant. This is a debt that survives bankruptcy, and includes student loans, fines and civil damages resulting from a drunken driving accident, and child/spousal support.


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