Monthly Archives: October 2020

I just received my chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge. Is my case done?

Kind of, but not really.

As for done-ness, your credit starts to rebound once you get the discharge. Your debts have been discharged, and you’ve gotten the relief you were seeking in bankruptcy. As far as your debt is concerned, yes, you are done.

As for being fully done, no. The bk trustee still has to administer the estate. Now what does this mean? I had a client ask me recently, and here’s what I told her:

Yes and no. (ha, I love lawyer answers).
You will get your discharge on October 27, and at that point your credit will start to rebound. However, the bk trustee will keep his half of the case open to see if your tax refunds are large enough for him to take. Once he determines that, he will either take the refund, or abandon it, and then the case closes out.

You can look at the end of your bankruptcy case has having two distinct parts: 1. the discharge, and 2. the trustee’s final report.

  1. the discharge — You receive your discharge about 3 months after you file.
  2. trustee’s final report — the bk trustee needs to determine if you have any assets worth taking (that aren’t exempt), like upcoming tax refunds, too much equity in your home, or too much equity in one of your cars. If there is enough there (usually at least $2,000 worth), then the bk trustee will take those assets and pay out a small percentage to each of your creditors.

The real problem comes down to timing. You get your discharge 3 months after you file. The final report may not close out your case until 2 years after you file. Yes, 2 years.

There is NO good way to tell the bk trustee to hurry up. Here’s a fun story about my feeble attempt: I reminded the trustee in an email that he had been sitting on my client’s tax refund for almost 3 months. He sent me a very unfriendly email, laced with expletives no less, saying that he might keep the case open up to the 2 year mark just to teach me and my client a little patience. That was the last time I tried to gently remind a trustee to do his job.

Yes, some of your attorneys will say that you can file a motion to force the trustee to administer the estate or abandon it, but those attorneys like to pick unnecessary fights and anger the trustees for years to come.

Can I add new debts to my bankruptcy case if they happen while it’s open?

Short answer: No (and maybe…).

The long answer is bit more complicated.

Basically, if the debt was incurred (happened) before you filed the bankruptcy, then you can add it to your open case. If the debt was incurred after you filed, then you cannot. (but see below).

When you file a bankruptcy case (7 or 13), you list all of your debts for things that happened up to the moment of filing. So if you are in a car accident as you drive to your attorney’s office to file the paperwork and get rushed to the hospital, you can add those bills, because they happened before you filed the bk.

However, if you have a follow-up with the doctor after you file bk, that follow-up appointment is not covered. It happened after the bk was filed.

On the other hand, let’s say you file bankruptcy, and then receive some collection bills from creditors for things that happened before the bk was filed. You can add those to your current case.

Even more complicated: you visit the doctor before filing, but he forgets to bill you until after we file. This IS covered, because the actual visit/service occurred before the bankruptcy was filed.

It all depends on when the debt was incurred.

With my clients, we try to list every creditor we can. Then we file the case. After filing, I tell them to make a stack of any collection notices they receive after we file. About 2 months after filing, we compare this stack to the list of creditors in the case. If there is someone we forgot, we add them.

Exception for new debt: That being said, if you are in a chapter 13 and incur new debt (like a huge hospital bill), you can convert your case to a chapter 7 and add the new debt. However, this is complicated enough that it deserves its own post.