At our law firm, we strive to work with you to make sure that all creditors are included when you file for Chapter 7. Not only do we recommend that you carefully complete our new client questionnaire, we also encourage you to bring us copies of your bills and that you request a current copy of your credit report. In most instances, you can download a copy of your credit report from the web site AnnualCreditReport.com.
However, mistakes do happen and you may discover that you left a creditor out of your case. Here is what you need to know:
If your case is still open, we can file an amendment and add the creditor. It does not matter if your case is about to close and if you waited until the last minute – you are allowed to amend your open case at any time to add a creditor. Therefore, if you believe that your case is still open, please contact us immediately as soon as you realize that you have left out a creditor.
If your case has already been closed, you may or may not need to do anything. If your Chapter 7 case was a “no asset” case – meaning that there were no assets for the Chapter 7 trustee to gather and sell – your unlisted unsecured creditor may be bound by the discharge anyway. Some bankruptcy judges take the position that if the unlisted unsecured creditor would not have received anything anyway, so that creditor was not harmed by being omitted from your petition. Judges in other bankruptcy courts may not take that position – ask your lawyer.
Often the problem arises when the omitted creditor starts legal action or begins aggressive collection efforts. You should contact your bankruptcy lawyer as soon as this happens to discuss how to proceed next.
Secured creditors not listed will most likely not be affected by the discharge at all. If you left off a secured creditor (lender on items like houses, cars, furniture, jewelry) you may need to file a motion to reopen your Chapter 7 case to include that creditor, or you may end up without bankruptcy relief at all for that particular debt.
Obviously, you are better off including all creditors but if you leave one off, let your attorney know as soon as possible to discuss your options.