In a Chapter 13 case, the deadline (bar date) for creditors who have claims against the debtor is detailed in the Notice of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Meeting of Creditors and Deadlines. The notice is mailed to all creditors a few days after the case is filed. The date should be not exceed ninety days after the first date set for the Meeting of Creditors. It is usually about 2 months from the bankruptcy petition date. Government entities (such as the Internal Revenue Service and the California Franchise Tax Board) have about six months from the petition date to file a claim. So for most cases, you will see claims being filed soon after the case is filed. Creditors are not required to file a claim. The court sends out the notice and it is up to the creditor to fill out and file the claim with the court. It can be done electronically. If the bar date has passed and the creditor has not filed its claim, then the creditor cannot participate in the distribution from the bankruptcy estate. What happens in a lot of Chapter 13 cases is that only a certain percentage of the creditors actually file a claim for whatever reason. The Chapter 13 debtor could benefit in these instances and exit the bankruptcy earlier, depending on the language and terms of the confirmed chapter plan.

Note that once a claim is filed, the debtor has the opportunity to review and object to the claim. Sometimes there are grounds to dispute the amount of the claim or the priority of the claim. Creditors sometimes misclassify a claim as priority when in fact it should be a general unsecured claim. Other times secured creditors may list the amount of arrears on a secured claim and the debtor may want to dispute the amount.

As a comparison, in Chapter 7, there is no claims bar date set unless the trustee makes a determination that there may be a distribution to creditors. Once that determination is made, the court sends out a notice to file claims and a similar process is initiated with similar deadlines. From a creditor’s perspective, a creditor should always file a claim in Chapter 13 but not necessarily in Chapter 7.

David Arietta has the experience to review and object to claims. He can advise clients what it entails and whether an objection is warranted or cost effective as part of the Chapter 13 process. Call him at (925) 472-8000 for a review of your situation.

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