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WHAT TO DO IF YOU FORGOT TO INCLUDE SOME CREDITORS IN BANKRUPTCY BY MISTAKE.

When we file a bankruptcy the client has an obligation to list everyone that they owe in the bankruptcy schedules. This document is filed under oath and when you sign it you certify under penalty of perjury that it includes all your creditors. Clients often ask if they can just file some of the credit cards and not others. It just does not work this way. It’s not the debts that are being filed but the person. When a person files a Chapter 7 case or any other bankruptcy case all the debts are required to be listed and are dealt with in some way.

It is unavoidable that on occasion a debt will not be listed. Most experienced Maryland bankruptcy lawyers will either have the ability to get a credit report from all three credit bureaus or at least will require the client provide one. This tends to insure that most of the debts that are still valid will be included in the schedules. Credit reports however are not 100% accurate and certain creditors do not report to the bureaus. Individuals who have loaned money to the client, some doctors, small service providers are typically not going to be there. Ex-spouses or former partners may also be part of that often overlooked list.

Once the case is fully administered and closed there is really not much that can be done. Maryland bankruptcy courts have been pretty clear that a case will not be reopened just to add a creditor who did not make it onto the bankruptcy schedules. This does not mean that all is lost in a Chapter 7 case. The normal creditors will still be discharged in almost all cases. Most Chapter 7 cases are “no asset” cases. This means that there are no non-exempt assets for the Chapter 7 trustee to administer and distribute to creditors. In those cases the normal debts that would have been discharged in the Chapter 7 case will still be discharged. This however assumes that the omission is not deliberate.

In “asset” cases there is a deadline that is very important for creditors. It is the deadline for them to file a proof of claim. If the creditor does not get notice of the bankruptcy and therefore misses the deadline to file claims then this debt will not be discharged. Similarly if a creditor has potential fraud or other claims involving wrongdoing by the debtor then there is a deadline to file a lawsuit to determine if the debt will not be discharged. As in the case with the proof of claim deadline if the lack of notice causes the creditor to miss the deadline then they can still file a fraud, conversion, assault etc. type of claim in State Court and those debts will not be discharged.

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