Many Georgian families have contacted our office to speak to a bankruptcy attorney about the legal options available to families who, due to the recent economic crisis, are having trouble meeting their monthly debt obligations. These families (or individuals) may benefit from filing for bankruptcy because doing so can greatly help reduce or eliminate many forms of debt such as credit card debt and medical bills.
If you or a loved one is considering filing for bankruptcy, you are urged to work with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who can help you navigate through this often complex and confusing legal process. The bankruptcy law establishes many rules and requirements that people who file for bankruptcy (called debtors) must abide by in order for their case to be successful. Read on for more information about one of bankruptcy’s most important requirements which is called the proof of claim.
What is a Proof of Claim in Bankruptcy?
A proof of claim is an official written statement that informs the debtor, the bankruptcy court, the bankruptcy trustee, and any other parties involved in the case that a creditor of the debtor (i.e. someone the debtor owes money) wants to assert the creditor’s right to receive a payout (called a distribution) from the bankruptcy estate. Typically, creditors have to file a POC in order to get paid so the vast majority of creditors are very diligent and make sure they file the POC as soon as possible.
There are two types of POCs: formal and informal. A formal POC must meet the standards of the Official Bankruptcy Form 10 (available at www.uscourts.gov). The basic required information includes identifying the debtor, the bankruptcy case number, the creditor, the amount owed to the creditor as of the date the bankruptcy case is filed, and the basis for the POC.
In contrast, as long as the informal POC meets five requirements, it will be acceptable by the bankruptcy court. These requirements are: the POC must be in writing, it must make a demand against the debtor, it must confirm the creditor’s intent to hold the bankruptcy estate liable for the claim, it must be filed with the court, and it must show that it would be fair for the court to allow the claim.
What Types of Creditors Must File a POC?
All unsecured creditors must file POCs. (Unsecured creditors are creditors who did not secure specific assets as collateral when they made the loan or extended the line of credit to the debtor).
However, certain types of secured creditors (i.e. creditors who did secure specific assets as collateral) are not required to file POCs. For instance, any creditor who is a lien holder does not have to file a POC in order to make sure their liens are protected during the bankruptcy case.
When Must Creditors File Their POCs?
Most creditors are required to file their POCs within 90 days after the date of the first creditor meeting in the bankruptcy case. However, government entities that qualify as creditors have a different deadline. They must file their POCs within 180 days from the date that the order for relief is entered.
Typically, if a creditor forgets to file the POC within the deadline, the creditor is simply out of luck. But it is important to bear in mind that the bankruptcy court does have the power to extend a filing deadline if the creditor can show that there were extenuating circumstances that prevented it from meeting the deadline.
Did you know that any interested party, including the debtor, may object to a creditor’s POC in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy? Working with a Georgia bankruptcy attorney will help you safeguard your rights and will make sure that your creditors respect these rights throughout the entire bankruptcy process. To learn more about hiring an experienced attorney, contact our office today. We look forward to speaking with you!