You may be putting off filing for Chapter 7
bankruptcy or Chapter 13 debt consolidation because of concern about not having
the exact debt balances due on your credit cards and other debts.
After all, bankruptcy involves a federal court filing under penalty of
Let me reassure you that you do not need to worry
or delay your bankruptcy filing if you are only able to estimate the balances
due. It is far more important to
have the accurate name and correspondence address for your creditors.
When you file bankruptcy – and this holds true
whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy – your case filing includes
something called a mailing matrix.
The matrix comprises a list of all of your creditors and creditor
representatives (collection agencies or lawyers) who will get notice of your
The notice of bankruptcy filing sets out specific
rights of your creditors. For
example in a Chapter 7 case, the notice includes the deadline for filing
objections, and whether the case is likely to produce assets that will be
distributed to creditors. In a
Chapter 13 the case notice includes hearing dates and deadlines and it also
includes a form called a proof of claim that creditors must fill out and submit
to participate in any distribution from your Chapter 13 plan.
The amount of debt listed in your petition
reflects your best guess as to what you owe. Obviously you should strive to make
this guess as accurate as possible since the amount of your debt may dictate how
your lawyer advises you. This is
especially true in a Chapter 13 payment plan that must include a repayment
Except in those rare cases where your debt
balances approach the jurisdictional debt limits set out in Chapter 13, however,
you will not be penalized if your guesses are off by hundreds of dollars. It is much more important to track down
accurate addresses so that creditors and their representatives will get
notice. If a creditor does not
get notice and the address you used in your petition is inaccurate, you run the
risk of not discharging the debt owed to that creditor.
Credit reports can provide important backup to support the addresses you
used and if you do not have addresses but need to file you can add creditors
after you file for a small fee.
So, do not worry if you do not have exact dollar figures for what
you owe but do let your lawyer know when you are making an educated guess or a
Jonathan Ginsberg, Atlanta bankruptcy
photo by: kenteegardin
Bankruptcy Law Network, LLC, 6502 S. 6th Street, Klamath Falls,
OR 97603, USA