A proof of claim is a written notice that the creditor – individual or business that the debtor owes – is asserting his/her or its right to obtain a pay out from the bankruptcy estate. This written statement is used as a formal way of notifying the court, the debtor and other affected parties that the creditor is planning on taking action. In general, an unsecured creditor is required to file a proof of claim if they want to get paid in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. Without filing a proof of claim, the unsecured creditor can lose the right to assert a claim against the debtor.
There are different types of creditors in the eyes of law. The term “secured creditor” is used to describe a creditor who has acquired a lien on the debtor’s property. This lien can have been acquired either with or without the debtor’s consent. An example of a lien acquired with the debtor’s consent is a home mortgage; an example of a lien acquired without the debtor’s consent – or involuntarily – is a tax lien. The term “unsecured creditor” is used to describe a creditor who has not acquired a lien on the debtor’s property. Therefore, an unsecured creditor hasn’t secured repayment of the debt owed to him/her or it.
There are deadlines regarding when a proof of claim must be filed by in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings. Typically, the notice of bankruptcy filing sent to the creditor contains the deadline to file a proof of claim. Non-governmental creditors have 90 days after the initial meeting of creditors to file a proof of claim. Government entities have 180 days after the order for relief to file a proof of claim.
The contents of a proof of claim have to adhere to Official Form 10. This form includes:
- Debtor’s name
- Case number
- Creditor’s name and address
- Amount of claim (as of the date the case was filed)
- Basis of claim
- Type of claim
- Any supporting documents attached, and
- Creditor’s original signature.
A proof of claim can be objected to if it contains an error or misrepresents the situation in some way. Part III of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, Rules 3001-3022, contain rules on filing a proof of claim and objecting to a proof of claim.
The District of Connecticut also has some Local Bankruptcy Rules. Local Bankruptcy Rule 3002-1 states that, in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, the filing creditor must send a copy of the proof of claim to the trustee when he or she files the original claim.
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