Can an Item Be Added to a Bankruptcy That Has Been Discharged?

By Beverly Bird

Filing for bankruptcy means putting your financial life under a microscope. You must account for every dime you've earned in the last six months. You must identify everyone you owe money to, how much you owe them, and when you last paid them. Given this exactness of detail, it's no wonder debtors sometimes overlook pertinent bits and pieces. If you find you need to go back after your discharge to add a creditor to your bankruptcy petition, your ability to do so depends on when the debt was incurred and the nature of your bankruptcy case.

New Debts

If you incur a new debt after you file for bankruptcy, it can never be discharged in that proceeding. You can't go back and add it. Bankruptcy can only address money you owe at the time you file your petition. You're responsible for paying anything that comes along after this.

Overlooked Debts

When you file for Chapter 7, the trustee seizes your assets and liquidates them to pay off your debts, but the bankruptcy law allows for exemptions, which you can use to protect certain assets from seizure and sale. When a debtor has no property that the trustee can sell, the case is said to be a no-asset bankruptcy. At least two bankruptcy courts have specifically ruled that if you filed for Chapter 7 protection and if yours was a no-asset case, debts you owed at the time of your bankruptcy are included in your discharge even if they were not listed in your petition. This is because none of your creditors received any payments, so the one you forgot wasn't unfairly prejudiced even though you forgot to include it -- the debt would not have been paid anyway.

Get a free, confidential bankruptcy evaluation. Learn More

Asset Cases

If the trustee liquidated any of your property, yours was not a no-asset case. In this case, you still owe any debts you forgot to include in your petition. If you had remembered to include the debt at the time you filed, the creditor would have received some of what you owed when your property was liquidated, so you must either re-open your bankruptcy case to discharge this debt or you're responsible for paying it.

Amending the Petition

To add a forgotten creditor to your bankruptcy after discharge file a motion with the court to re-open your case and amend your petition. This is not as simple as it sounds. Several complicated issues are involved, such as how the forgotten creditor can or should receive payment toward the debt if all your non-exempt assets have been liquidated and the money already distributed. You'll have to pay additional filing fees and probably need the help of an attorney. Even if yours was a no-asset bankruptcy, the forgotten creditor might insist that you reopen the case to include its debt, but courts have ruled that you're either not allowed to do this or don't have to do so if none of your creditors received any payment as part of the proceedings. An attorney can explain this to them.

Chapter 13

If you filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, rather than Chapter 7, the issue is much more clear cut. If you omitted a creditor, the debt is not discharged. Chapter 13 involves funding a repayment plan to your creditors with your disposable income each month over a period of three or five years. Therefore, if you had included the debt in the first place, the creditor would have received some payment from the start. Discharging the debt after you completed your plan would unfairly affect the creditor.

Get a free, confidential bankruptcy evaluation. Learn More
The Effect of Not Listing Creditors on a Bankruptcy Filing


Related articles

What Bills Will Bankruptcy Cover?

Bankruptcy can be a complex process because different rules apply to different types of debts. Chapter 13 cases cover some bills that Chapter 7 bankruptcies do not. Whether filing for bankruptcy will benefit you, and which chapter you should file, both depend on what bills you want to get rid of.

Are You Liable for a Debt Not Included in a Bankruptcy?

It's not uncommon for a person who files a petition for bankruptcy to overlook a debt he owes, perhaps to a credit card company or to a doctor or dentist. Whether you are still liable for that debt after your other debts have been discharged, or excused, by the bankruptcy court is a thorny legal question. In some jurisdictions, the answer is no and in others, the answer is yes. In the latter circumstance, you can petition the court to reopen your case and get the omitted debt formally discharged.

Can You Reopen a Bankruptcy Chapter 7?

Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most of your consumer debts are discharged by a court order within approximately six months from the filing of your petition. This discharge is important because it legally wipes away any claims that creditors have that you owe money on a debt so long as you identified the debt as part of your bankruptcy case. However, if you failed to identify a creditor as part of your case, you may be able to reopen the case under certain circumstances.


Related articles

How to Amend a Discharged Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy because your nonexempt assets are sold by a ...

What Do I Do When I Leave Out a Creditor in a Bankruptcy?

When you file the initial petition for bankruptcy, you will complete a schedule that lists all of your creditors and ...

Do I Have to Reopen an Asset Chapter 7 for an Unlisted Creditor?

Bankruptcy can give you a fresh start financially by erasing certain debts, but federal bankruptcy law gives certain ...

Do I Have to Pay Back Medical Bills That Show Up After a Bankruptcy Discharge?

What you still have to pay after your bankruptcy discharge depends on what type of bankruptcy case you filed and when ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED