What Is a Proof of Claim in Bankruptcy?

A creditor that wants to get paid in bankruptcy must file a proof of claim.

By , J.D. · California Western School of Law

In bankruptcy, a proof of claim is a form a creditor must file to receive funds from the bankruptcy estate. After the creditor submits a proof of claim to the court, the trustee appointed to administer the case will pay it according to bankruptcy priority rules and a Chapter 13 repayment plan.

You can download a copy of a proof of claim form from the U.S. Court bankruptcy form page.

What Is a Proof of Claim?

A proof of claim is a form creditors file with the court to substantiate their claims in bankruptcy. When you file for bankruptcy, all creditors listed in your schedules receive notice of your case. The notice will include a deadline called the claims bar date, which is the last day a creditor can file a proof of claim form.

For most creditors, the period is 70 days after the petition filing date for all claims other than government claims. Government entities have 180 days after the petition filing date to file a proof of claim. If a creditor doesn't file a proof of claim, it can't get paid through your bankruptcy.

In a no-asset Chapter 7 case, creditors won't file proof of claim forms because there won't be any assets to distribute. However, in a Chapter 13 or a Chapter 7 asset case, funds will be available for the trustee to distribute.

Who Can File a Proof of Claim?

In most cases, a creditor will file a proof of claim. The debtor can file for a creditor if the debtor wants to ensure the creditor gets paid through the bankruptcy.

For instance, if you filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to catch up on your mortgage arrears and save your home, you want the mortgage lender to get paid through your repayment plan. If the mortgage company fails to file a claim in your case, you can notify it to file a proof of claim or obtain the necessary information to submit it yourself.

However, under 2017 bankruptcy law changes, secured creditors must file proof of claim forms, as well. Find out more about filing a proof of claim for a creditor.

Information in a Bankruptcy Proof of Claim

In general, a proof of claim must include:

  • the debtor's name and case number
  • the creditor's name
  • notice and payment addresses for the creditor
  • claim amount as of the bankruptcy filing date
  • whether the debt is a secured, unsecured, or priority claim, and
  • the creditor's basis for the claim.

Also, the creditor must attach supporting documentation substantiating the claim, such as a promissory note, loan agreement, or deed of trust.

Objecting to a Proof of Claim

If you don't agree with a creditor's proof of claim, you can object to it. The specific procedures for objecting to proofs of claim depend on the rules in your jurisdiction. Expect to:

  • obtain a hearing date
  • fill out the required forms
  • explain why you think the proof of claim is wrong (attaching any necessary documentation)
  • file the objection with the court, and
  • serve it on the affected creditor.

In most cases, debtors object to proofs of claim because:

  • the amount of the claim is incorrect
  • the creditor classified the debt incorrectly, for instance, as a secured or priority debt, or
  • there is no supporting documentation attached to the claim form.

Find out about the differences between Chapter 7 and 13.

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