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What is a Bankruptcy Proof of Claim?

December 29, 2010

A bankruptcy proof of claim is an allegation against the debtor of a debt that arose on or before the date of the bankruptcy filing. It is an allegation because the bankruptcy debtor may contest this allegation. The bankruptcy court accepts the creditor’s proof of claim as true until the debtor files an objection and disputes it.

In cases where there is no distribution of money to creditors (called a “no asset case”), filing a proof of claim is not necessary. Consequently, claims are not filed in most Chapter 7 cases. In Chapter 13 cases, when creditors expect to be paid, the proof of claim is a prerequisite to payment from the trustee.

A proof of claim can be filed by a creditor, the debtor, or the bankruptcy trustee. If an unsecured creditor fails to file a proof of claim, the claim is not allowed and the trustee will not pay the creditor. This can be problematic to the debtor in certain cases and may necessitate the debtor filing a proof of claim so that the creditor can be paid. Failure to file a proof of claim does not impact a secured creditor’s lien against collateral.

The bankruptcy court uses a standard proof of claim form. In most cases this form is mailed to creditors during Chapter 13 cases or Chapter 7 asset cases. A proof of claim should include a copy of any supporting documentation (a promissory note or other loan paperwork), as well as evidence of perfection of a secured claim. A creditor must file the proof of claim prior to the claims deadline (bar date). This date is set by the bankruptcy court, but cannot exceed ninety days after the first date set for the Meeting of Creditors.

A debtor may object to a proof of claim. Common objections include:
* Not timely filed;
* Incorrect claim amount;
* Improper claim;
* Debt paid in full;
* Failure to attach adequate supporting documentation.

If you are considering filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, expect to have your creditors file claims. Each proof of claim should be reviewed by you and your attorney to ensure that the claim is accurate. Failure to timely object to the proof of claim may substantially impact your case.


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