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How Do I Amend My Bankruptcy Filings?

Bankruptcy filings occasionally require amendments for multiple reasons. For example, a bankruptcy debtor may experience a change in income that necessitates an amendment. Another reason for having to amend a bankruptcy filing might be a change in employment, either obtaining or losing a job. A change of address, vehicle change, or marital change may also trigger the need to amend bankruptcy filings.

One of the most common reasons for amending a bankruptcy filing is to add a forgotten debt and creditor. Such mistakes are usually unintentional. If a debt has been mistakenly omitted from original filings by debtor or debtor's counsel, then the debtor must file an amendment. Because an omitted creditor does not receive any of the bankruptcy filings and therefore lacks notice of the developments in the bankruptcy case potentially affecting the creditor's payment(s), time is of the essence to correct the omission.

Filing a Bankruptcy Amendment

The bankruptcy court permits debtors to amend bankruptcy filings, so long as it is done promptly. There is no court filing fee associated with the amendment filing apart from potential fees for debtor's counsel. The amendment filing usually consists of a motion for leave to file an amended filing and the proposed amended filing as an exhibit to the motion.

Bankruptcy amendments can be made in a case until nearly the point of receiving a discharge. It is important to realize, though, that it may take a week or two for newly-added creditors to receive service and notice of the bankruptcy filings post-amendment. A debtor cannot expect an omitted creditor to abide by the automatic stay and cease collection activities when the creditor is oblivious of the bankruptcy.

Important Considerations

Another common occurrence in bankruptcy takes place when a debtor continues to receive collection and dunning correspondence from creditors after filing bankruptcy. It is possible that the creditor was not listed in the bankruptcy and did not receive service of the initial filings, or the address for the creditor was incorrect or incomplete. For these reasons, debtors should make careful note of collection and creditor correspondence to ensure that their bankruptcy filings are complete and accurate. The tendency to avoid mail and discard it or place aside because of the bills usually enclosed must be avoided.

Bankruptcy is a very paper-intensive process and some believe the amount of paperwork and filing required is oppressive and burdensome. Notwithstanding those complaints, it is imperative to file a bankruptcy petition, schedules, and statements in as complete and accurate manner as possible. Remember, a debtor’s filings are what the bankruptcy court, trustee, and creditors use to review, evaluate, and ascertain the debtor's true financial picture. Those same filings are what will direct factors including the duration and outcome of the bankruptcy case.