Reopening a Bankruptcy Case
Most bankruptcy cases go off without a hitch, especially if you hire a South Florida bankruptcy attorney to represent you. However, sometimes a person receives a discharge or has their case closed without receiving a discharge only to realize they need to reopen their case.
If you did not use a lawyer for your initial filing, we recommend hiring one now. A debtor can often reopen their case, but they need a solid reason for doing so and the process can confuse people.
Reasons to Reopen a Case
According to the bankruptcy code, 11 U.S. Code §350(b), a court can reopen a case to grant relief to the debtor, administer assets, or for any other cause. Some of the more common reasons to request that a bankruptcy judge reopen your case include:
- Forgetting to list a creditor. In your initial paperwork, you should list all creditors. Sometimes people forget, however. After their case is closed, the creditor starts up collection proceedings against the debtor. In this situation, you might want to reopen the case to add the creditor.
- Forgetting to list property. In addition to identifying all debts, filers must identify all property that they own. This can include property such as the right to sue someone, which many people might not consider an asset. It is not unusual for people to forget to list all property when they file for bankruptcy without a lawyer’s help.
- Forgetting to file a certificate. For example, you might have failed to file the certificate you received for completing credit counseling. Since credit counseling is mandatory, you will need to include this in your file before you can receive a discharge.
We typically do not need to reopen a case to correct a clerical error made by the court, such as a wrong date or a misspelling. Instead, the court can correct those errors themselves.
Why You Need a Lawyer’s Help
Forgetting to file a credit counseling certificate is not really a big deal. Neglecting to list debts or assets is much different. Those omissions can materially affect your bankruptcy and might even raise the prospect that you committed fraud. For example, some people deliberately refuse to list assets so that they don’t lose them in a Chapter 7. True, you might have forgotten, but the trustee might be suspicious and assume an improper motive.
Reopening a case requires the bankruptcy judge’s approval. We do not recommend that debtors approach the court on their own. A judge will probably want to hear a credible explanation for why you forgot to list assets or debts. An experienced attorney can help you document your story.
If the judge agrees to open the case, you should move quickly. Don’t delay amending your bankruptcy paperwork. At our firm, we will have everything ready to go and file as soon as the judge approves our motion.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a South Florida Bankruptcy Attorney
The Plantation bankruptcy lawyers at Nowack & Olson have decades of experience in the bankruptcy courts. We can review your case and determine the best path forward. Call us today at 888-813-4737 to schedule your free consultation.