If you are a party in a personal Bankruptcy case, you have probably come across references to a “Proof of Claim” form (sometimes simply referred to as a “claim”). Officially, it is known as Form B10, and you can view and complete the form on the U.S. Courts website. This form, completed by the creditor, states the amount of their claim, the basis for the claim, whether it is a secured or unsecured claim, or entitled to priority, and a few other details. It is wise for the creditor to attach supporting documentation, such as bills or judgments, if the documents are not too voluminous. Since most Chapter 7 cases are “no asset” cases, claim forms are generally not mailed to creditors. If the Chapter 7 Trustee locates assets and believes creditors may receive a distribution, they will normally request a “Bar Date” (or deadline) to file claims and mail claim forms to creditors. Claim forms are generally sent to creditors in Chapter 13 cases. Occasionally, a Trustee or debtor may file a proof of claim on behalf of a creditor.
In Chapter 7 cases that are “asset cases” the Trustee will normally review the claims to make sure they are supported and not improperly filed as secured or priority claims (which happens quite a bit). A debtor normally does not have an interest in the claims because they get a discharge either way, but it is important for a debtor to review secured or priority claims that may affect the debtor after the case. For example, the more money paid to the IRS in the case for a nondischargeable tax debt, the less money owed after the case is over. In Chapter 13 cases, it is important (and required) that the claims be reviewed so that all creditors can receive the appropriate distribution in the case.