Completing Proofs of Claim in U.S. Bankruptcy Court

A proof of claim is a form filed in a bankruptcy case which details a claim against or interest in a bankrupt debtor.  The following describes completion of the proof of claim form, answers the question of who must file a proof of claim, and describes when the proof of claim must be filed.

Proofs of claim and interest are governed by 11 U.S.C. §§ 501 and 502 and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (“FRBP”) 3001, 3002, 3003, 3005, 3006, 3007 and 3008.  Different rules and requirements are described below based on the different bankruptcy code chapters.  The proof of claim is completed using Official Form B10 which is available at the website of the bankruptcy court if a copy is not provided to you as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.

Completion of Official Form B10

Read the Instructions: In filling out Official Form B10 pay careful attention to the attached instructions and definitions.  Additionally, carefully review the cited bankruptcy code sections in order to correctly fill out the form.  Specifically, the portion of the form governing priority claims only provides five (5) of the most common priority claims under § 507(a) and is not an exclusive list of priority claims.

Make Sure to File in the Proper Case:  The proof of claim must be filed against the proper debtor.  If this is in doubt, it may require that the proof of claim be filed against multiple debtors.  This is commonly done in cases with several related debtors filing in one jointly administered case.

Reserve Your Client’s Rights: It is good practice to expressly reserve the right to amend and supplement the proof of claim. Also, reserve your client’s the right to setoff.  This protects your client if the debtor later asserts a claim against them.

Documentation: It is recommended that copies of all necessary documentation underlying the claim should be attached to Official Form B10 and redacted as needed.  Originals of documents should not be provided as these may be destroyed after the form is scanned.

Filing: Official Form B10 should be filed with the bankruptcy court or claims agent as directed.  In large bankruptcy cases, a claims agent is often employed to process claims.  The proof of claim or interest should be filed electronically or mailed to the proper party.  In most cases, a fax or email will not be accepted.

Who Needs to File a Proof of Claim?

In chapter 13, a proof of claim must be filed by an unsecured creditor in order to participate in the claims process.

In chapter 9 and chapter 11, any creditor or equity security holder whose claim or interest is not listed on the debtor’s schedules or is scheduled as disputed, contingent, or unliquidated must file a proof of claim in order to participate in the claims process.  Conversely, in chapter 9 and chapter 11, any creditor or equity security holder whose claim or interest is listed on the debtor’s schedules and is not scheduled as disputed, contingent, or unliquidated need not file a proof of claim.

In chapter 7 a proof of claim is not required to be filed as there are usually no funds available for distribution.  However, a notice to file a proof of claim will be generated if it is determined that there are funds available for distribution.  In such a case, a claim must be filed in order to participate in the claims process.

Deadlines

In chapter 7, chapter 12, and chapter 13, a proof of claim is timely filed if it is filed not later than 90 days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors called under § 341.  A proof of claim filed by a governmental unit, with an exception described in § 1308, is timely filed if it is filed not later than 180 days after the date of the order for relief.  These deadlines are described in the Notice sent out by the court upon the initiation of the case or in the Notice sent out upon the determination that there are assets to be administered in chapter 7.

In cases under chapter 9 and chapter 11, a proof of claim must be filed by the time set by the court pursuant to FRBP 3003(c).  The court sets this time automatically per its local rules or upon a debtor’s motion or the motion of another party in interest.  Once a bar date is set, a Notice is sent to all creditors and parties in interest of the deadline to file a proof of claim.

Conclusion

With the exceptions noted above, filing a proof of claim is necessary to protect your client’s right to participate in the bankruptcy claims process.  Additionally, the filing a proof of claim causes a creditor to submit itself to the bankruptcy court’s jurisdiction and waives its right to a jury trial. In re Ha-Lo Industries, 326 B.R. 116 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 2005).  Finally, one must be vigilant to timely respond to any objections which may be filed in response to the proof of claim.

With offices in Richmond, Glen Allen, and Hopewell, Ronald Page, PLC services debtors and creditors in bankruptcy proceedings in the Virginia Capitol area including Richmond, Henrico County, Chesterfield County, Hopewell, Petersburg, Hanover County, Caroline County, Powhatan County, Prince George County, Goochland County, New Kent County, and Amelia County.