What is This Notice to File a Proof of Claim I Received?


If you have receive a notice of possible dividends or notice of 341 meeting of the creditors, then someone who owes you money has filed for bankruptcy protection.  You should seek the counsel of an experienced bankruptcy attorney for advice.  Do not just show up at the 341 hearing yourself if you are not sure what is going on.

One of the most important parts of the bankruptcy process when there are assets available to creditors is the claims process.  The vast majority of bankruptcy filers do not have assets that are available to the people they owe money.  All assets can be protected or exempted.  But what about the cases in which there are assets available to creditors?  How do they get paid and what amount?  A proof of claim must be filed that proves how much was owed to them at the time the bankruptcy case was filed.

Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 3001 provides the rules for the filing of a proof of claim and what documentation must be provided to prove how much is owed.  In asset Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases the trustee assigned to the case does not ask for proof of claims to be filed until they file the notice of possible dividends.  Once this notice is filed then creditors have to file their proof of claims to be paid in the case.  In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases we already know there are assets available to creditors.  All Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases have either money or assets available to creditors, so creditors are asked to file their claims with notice of the meeting of the creditors.

The deadline for normal creditors to file a claim generally should not exceed nineties days after the first date of the 341 meeting of the creditors.  Government entities such as the Internal Revenue Service are provided more time to file a claim.  A frustration of many bankruptcy lawyers is how long it takes creditors to file their claims sometimes.  Not knowing how much is owed on secured claims or priority unsecured claims at the time the case is filed can delay confirmation of the Chapter 13 Plan.

Sometimes debts are transferred or sold to multiple parties.  Other times creditors file claims that are just not accurate.  Whether a creditor tries to get paid more than they are entitled to or just does not provide the necessary documents to prove their claim; an objection to the claim should be filed if any inaccuracy exists.  The evidentiary effect of filing a claim is that if the proof of claim meets the rules it will constitute prima facie evidence of the validity and amount of the claim.  If you do not object the claim is assumed to be accurate.  There has been litigation regarding collection agencies filing junk claims to get paid nominal amounts.  If the collection agency does this in a thousand cases and merely receives $50 from each case, they will have fraudulently received $50,000.  The good news is most Chapter 13 Trustee’s also review the filed claims and will object to some on behalf of the bankruptcy estate under certain circumstances.