If you’re owed money by someone who’s filed for bankruptcy, you’re probably wondering how you’ll ever get paid. The truth is, there’s a way – but you’ve got to act fast. It’s called filing a Proof of Claim, and it’s your ticket to getting a piece of the bankruptcy pie.

A Proof of Claim is basically a form you fill out and send to the bankruptcy court saying, “Hey, I’m owed money, and here’s how much.” It’s your way of staking your claim and making sure you don’t get left out in the cold.

But here’s the thing – you can’t just sit back and wait for the money to roll in. You’ve got to be proactive and file that Proof of Claim before the deadline. Miss it, and you might be kissing your money goodbye.

What Is a Proof of Claim in Bankruptcy?

A proof of claim in bankruptcy is like a creditor raising their hand and saying, “Hey, the person or company that filed for bankruptcy owes me money.” It’s an official form that creditors fill out and submit to the bankruptcy court. The form outlines how much the debtor owes them and why.

Who Files a Proof of Claim?

Any creditor who wants to get paid in a Chapter 11, Chapter 12, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case needs to file a proof of claim. This could be anyone from banks and credit card companies to suppliers, landlords, or even Uncle Joe who loaned the debtor money.

What Information Is Required on a Proof of Claim?

The proof of claim form asks for details like:

  • The creditor’s name and contact info
  • The debtor’s name and bankruptcy case number
  • The amount owed as of the bankruptcy filing date
  • Whether the claim is secured or unsecured
  • Supporting documents like invoices or contracts

Basically, it’s a snapshot of the debt owed at the time the bankruptcy began.

When Must a Proof of Claim Be Filed?

In most cases, the deadline to file a proof of claim is 70 days after the bankruptcy filing date. But sometimes the court will set a different deadline, so it’s important to check the notice sent by the bankruptcy clerk. Miss the deadline? Unfortunately, that usually means missing out on any potential payments from the bankruptcy estate. The proof of claim is a critical step for creditors seeking payment in a bankruptcy case. It’s their way of officially putting their hat in the ring and declaring, “I’m owed money, and here’s the proof.”

How to File a Proof of Claim in Bankruptcy

So, you’ve determined that you need to file a proof of claim in a bankruptcy case. But what’s the process? One option is mailing in a completed proof of claim form to the bankruptcy court. Be sure to include any supporting documents. The mailing address should be listed on the notice you received about the bankruptcy filing. If not, a quick call to the court clerk can clear that up.

Filing an Electronic Proof of Claim (ePOC)

Many bankruptcy courts now allow or even require electronic filing of proofs of claim. This is done through the court’s ePOC system. You’ll need to register for an account and follow their instructions for submitting the form and attachments online.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filing a Proof of Claim

To ensure your claim is accepted and processed smoothly, watch out for these common pitfalls:

  • Missing the filing deadline
  • Failing to include required information or documents
  • Listing an incorrect claim amount
  • Sending the form to the wrong address or filing in the wrong case

Double-check everything before submitting. A small error could delay or even disqualify your claim. Filing a proof of claim isn’t rocket science, but it does require attention to detail. Whether you mail it in or file electronically, make sure you’ve dotted your i’s, crossed your t’s, and hit that deadline. Your diligence could make the difference in whether you recover funds from the bankruptcy estate. So take the time to get it right.

Types of Claims in Bankruptcy

Not all bankruptcy claims are created equal. The type of claim you have determines its priority for payment from the bankruptcy estate.

Unsecured Claims

Unsecured claims are those that aren’t backed by any specific property as collateral. Think credit card balances, medical bills, and personal loans. If there’s not enough money to go around, unsecured creditors are often last in line and may only receive a fraction of what they’re owed, if anything. A secured claim is tied to a particular asset, like a car for an auto loan or a house for a mortgage. If the debtor can’t make payments, the creditor can typically reclaim the property securing the debt. This puts secured creditors in a better position to recoup their money.

Priority Claims

Some unsecured claims are given special treatment and jump to the front of the payment line. These priority claims include things like:

  • Domestic support obligations
  • Certain taxes
  • Wages, salaries, and commissions owed to employees

Priority claims must be paid in full before other unsecured claims see a dime. So, what kind of claim do you have? The answer could mean the difference between a sizable payout and pennies on the dollar. Check that proof of claim form carefully and make sure you’re asserting the right type of claim. Your wallet will thank you.

Objecting to a Proof of Claim

Just because a creditor files a proof of claim doesn’t mean it’s automatically accepted and paid out. The debtor, trustee, and other parties have a chance to review and potentially object to claims.

Who Can Object to a Proof of Claim?

The usual suspects for claim objections are:

  • The debtor
  • The bankruptcy trustee
  • Other creditors (who may want to knock out competing claims)

Basically, anyone with a dog in the fight can raise an objection.

Reasons for Objecting to a Proof of Claim

Some common grounds for objections include:

  • The claim amount is incorrect
  • The debt was already paid
  • The statute of limitations has passed
  • There’s no supporting documentation
  • The claim was filed late

If something seems fishy or inaccurate about a claim, it’s fair game for an objection.

The Objection Process

Objections must be filed in writing with the bankruptcy court and served on the creditor who filed the claim. The creditor then has a chance to respond, and the court will hold a hearing to sort it all out. The judge will either allow the claim, disallow it entirely, or allow it in a modified amount. It’s not uncommon for proofs of claim to face objections, especially in complex bankruptcy cases with lots of creditors jockeying for position. As a creditor, it’s important to make sure your claim is accurate and well-supported to withstand any potential challenges. And as a debtor or trustee, it’s your job to scrutinize those claims and object when warranted. The claims objection process is all about ensuring that only valid debts are paid from the bankruptcy estate. It’s a checks and balances system to keep everyone honest and protect the integrity of the bankruptcy process.

What Happens After Filing a Proof of Claim?

You’ve filled out the form, gathered your documents, and filed your proof of claim. Now what? After the deadline for filing claims has passed, the bankruptcy trustee will review all the proofs of claim and file a notice indicating which claims are allowed and which are disallowed. If your claim is allowed, congrats. You’re in line to potentially receive a distribution from the bankruptcy estate. If it’s disallowed, you’ll need to file a response arguing why it should be allowed. The court will then hold a hearing to make a final determination.

Distribution of Funds to Creditors

Once all the claims have been sorted out, it’s time to pay the piper. The trustee will distribute any available funds to creditors in order of priority:

  1. Secured claims
  2. Priority unsecured claims
  3. General unsecured claims

The amount each creditor receives depends on the total value of the estate and the number and types of claims. In some cases, unsecured creditors may only receive a small percentage of their claim amount. And if the estate is totally tapped, they may get nothing at all.

Monitoring the Bankruptcy Case

Just because you’ve filed your proof of claim doesn’t mean your work is done. It’s important to keep an eye on the debtor’s bankruptcy case to stay informed of any developments that could impact your claim, like:

  • Objections to your claim
  • Amendments to the debtor’s schedules or plan
  • Motions that could affect the distribution of funds

Most bankruptcy courts have online case management systems where you can access filings and track the progress of the case. You may also receive notices from the court or trustee about important deadlines, hearings, or other events. The key is to stay engaged and advocate for your interests throughout the bankruptcy process. Filing a proof of claim is an important step, but it’s not the end of the road. By monitoring the case and participating as needed, you can maximize your chances of recovering as much of your claim as possible. It may take some time and effort, but it’s often well worth it in the end.


So there you have it – the lowdown on Proof of Claim in Bankruptcy. It’s not the most exciting topic, but it’s one that can make a big difference in whether you get paid or not.

Remember, if you’re owed money by someone who’s filed for bankruptcy, don’t wait around twiddling your thumbs. File that Proof of Claim pronto, and make sure you include all the necessary info to back up your claim.

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused by the whole process, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. There are plenty of resources out there, from bankruptcy attorneys to online guides, that can walk you through the steps and make sure you’re doing everything right.

At the end of the day, filing a Proof of Claim is all about protecting your rights and making sure you get what you’re owed. So don’t let the opportunity slip away – take action and stake your claim today.