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What Happens if I Forgot to Include a Debt in My Bankruptcy Schedules That Were Filed

What does a debtor do if he or she has forgotten to list a debt or creditor on his or her bankruptcy schedules (that have already been filed)? Nope, panic is not the answer. The first thing to do after gathering the necessary documentation and paperwork is to call a bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible and alert that counsel to the problem. The earlier the catch is made, the better the situation and more options available to the bankruptcy attorney and client. Then, what next?

After contacting bankruptcy counsel to report any omitted debt or creditor from filed bankruptcy schedules, what else should the debtor do?

If, after filing a bankruptcy petition, a debtor learns or realizes that an entry for a debt or creditor is not correct or has been omitted, he or she must work with bankruptcy counsel on filing any necessary amendment. A written and filed amendment to the prior bankruptcy filings is the proper way to correct the previous oversight. It is important to realize that the prior bankruptcy petition was filed under penalty of perjury by debtor, with the help of his or her bankruptcy counsel. As a result, the debtor is held to the standard of exercising the utmost in due care when preparing, finalizing, and filing bankruptcy filings.

Is there any significance or consequence  if a debt or creditor is inadvertently omitted?

There is a significance attached to omitted debts in the bankruptcy context, as well. Any debts that are not included in the lists in the debtor’s filed bankruptcy schedules and statements is not eligible for discharge. This means the debt cannot be removed or eliminated in the bankruptcy proceeding. As a result, the debtor will still be held responsible to repay that particular debt. As such, it behooves a debtor to be as thorough, comprehensive, and inclusive as possible in the compilation and listing of all appropriate debts and creditors.

Is there a safeguard that can be taken to ensure my list of creditors and debts is comprehensive?

Given the high stakes of omissions and mistakes in the bankruptcy filing process, it is prudent to put appropriate safeguards in place whenever possible. Many consumer bankruptcy attorneys who represent debtors exclusively or primarily take additional measures to ensure that clients’ listings of creditors and debts are comprehensive and all-inclusive. For example, they order copies of clients’ credit reports and compare the entities and debts listed on same with the information provided by debtors. By cross-referencing the credit report against information provided by a debtor, the bankruptcy attorney can readily identify whether there are any omissions from the debtor’s listed creditors and debts that should be added to a bankruptcy proceeding.