General Bankruptcy, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
General Bankruptcy / US Trustee
Chapter 7: Often called the liquidation chapter, chapter 7 is used by individuals, partnerships, or corporations who have no hope for repairing their financial situation. In chapter 7 asset cases, the debtor's estate is liquidated under the rules of the bankruptcy code. Liquidation is the process through which the debtor's non-exempt property is sold for cash by a trustee and the proceeds are distributed to creditors.
Chapter 11: Often called the reorganization chapter, chapter 11 allows corporations, partnerships, and some individuals to reorganize, without having to liquidate all assets. In filing a chapter 11, the debtor presents a plan to creditors which, if accepted by the creditors and approved by the court, will allow the debtor to reorganize personal, financial or business affairs and again become a financially productive individual or business.
Chapter 13: An individual with a regular income who is overcome by debts, but believes such debt can be repaid within a reasonable period of time, may file under chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code. Chapter 13 permits the debtor to file a plan in which the debtor agrees to pay a certain percentage of future income to the bankruptcy court trustee for payment to creditors. If the court approves the plan, the debtor will be under the court's protection while repaying such debts.
More information regarding the difference between chapters can be found in the Bankruptcy Basics Manual.
The court prints the name of the trustee in Chapters 7, 12, or 13 bankruptcy cases on the Notice of Bankruptcy, Meeting of Creditors and Deadlines. You may obtain the trustee's name by accessing the court's Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS) or through Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). The name of the trustee is also accessible via the public terminals in all divisional offices or you may call the divisional office where the case is pending or was closed.
Procedures on our website are divided into three sections: district, division and national. Please see the Rules and Procedures link for further information.
The creditor's matrix is a list of the creditors in your case. It must be filed in the proper format so that it can be used by the court's automated noticing system. Please see Amended General Order 13 for creditor matrix formatting instructions.
The meeting of creditors is a hearing all debtors must attend in any bankruptcy proceeding. It is held outside of the presence of the judge and usually occurs between 20 and 40 days after the filing of the petition. In chapter 7, 12, and 13 cases, the trustee assigned to the case conducts the meeting. In a chapter 11 case, a representative of the United States Trustee's Office conducts the meeting.
The meeting permits the trustee or the representative of the U.S. Trustee to review the debtor's petition and schedules with the debtor. The debtor is required to answer questions under penalty of perjury (swearing or affirming to tell the truth) about the debtor's conduct, property, liabilities, financial condition, and any other matter that may affect the administration of the case or the debtor's right to discharge. In addition, the trustee or U.S. Trustee's representative will ask questions to ensure that the debtor understands the bankruptcy process.
The meeting is referred to as a meeting of creditors because creditors are notified that they may attend and ask the debtor questions pertaining to assets or any other matter pertinent to the administration of the case. It is also referred to as a 341 meeting because it is mandated by Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code. Creditors are not required to attend these meetings and do not waive any rights if they do not attend. The meeting usually lasts only about ten to fifteen minutes and may be continued if the trustee or U.S. Trustee's representative is not satisfied with the information presented.
If the debtor fails to appear and provide the information requested, the trustee or U.S. Trustee's representative may request that the case be dismissed, or may seek other relief against the debtor for failure to cooperate. If the case involves spouses filing jointly, both spouses must appear at the meeting of creditors.
In order to expedite the handling of complaints of criminal violations in the bankruptcy system, the United States Trustee requires that your complaint be submitted in a signed letter, bearing your return address and telephone number.
Your complaint will be reviewed promptly upon receipt. If the information furnished establishes a reasonable belief that a criminal violation has occurred, the matter will be referred to the United States Attorney. If the United States Attorney deems the matter to hold prosecutorial merit, it will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for investigation. A clearly written statement containing copies of any available documentation will expedite this process.
The following information should be submitted with your complaint:
1. Name and address of the person or business you are reporting.
For more information regarding reporting suspected bankruptcy fraud, please see the United States Trustee's website.
General Bankruptcy / US Trustee
The Office of the U.S. Trustee is an executive branch agency that is part of the Department of Justice. Its responsibilities include monitoring the administration of bankruptcy cases and detecting bankruptcy fraud. It is also responsible for appointing interim trustees to administer chapter 7 cases from a previously appointed panel of private individuals, lending support to and overseeing the debtor-in-possession in chapter 11 cases, and appointing and supervising standing trustee in chapter 13 cases.
The individuals appointed by the U.S. Trustee to serve as interim or standing trustees in individual bankruptcy cases changes over time. If you would like additional information regarding either the trustee program in general or individual trustees, you should contact the Office of the U.S. Trustee or the Region 17 Office of the U.S. Trustee website..
Credit counseling is conducted by a United States Trustee authorized credit counselor and must be completed before you file for bankruptcy. It is a requirement for ALL individual debtors. When you have received your credit counseling, the credit counselor will issue a certificate that must be filed with the bankruptcy court. If you are filing jointly with your spouse, both of you must complete credit counseling. The failure to timely file a properly issued credit counseling certificate will result in the dismissal of your bankruptcy case. If applicable, the credit counselor may issue a proposed budget and repayment plan (if one is prepared, it is to be filed along with the certificate).
Personal financial management is a course that you take, after you file bankruptcy, from an agency authorized by the United States Trustee. It is only required for chapter 7 and 13 individual debtors. Once you have completed the training, you must file Official Form B 23 . If a certificate was provided, this must be submitted at the time of filing the B23 form. In chapter 7 cases, the certificate regarding completion of a financial management course must be filed within 45 days of the first scheduled 11 U.S.C. 341 Meeting of Creditors. In chapter 13 cases, the certificate of course completion is due prior to the completion of all plan payments so that a discharge may be obtained. The failure to timely file the certificate of course completion in either a chapter 7 or 13 case could result in your case being closed without the issuance of a discharge. If this occurs, you will need to pay a filing fee to reopen the case.
Please visit the US Trustee's website for the most recent information on approved credit counseling agencies and personal financial management instructional course providers.
Please refer to the procedures, of the judge assigned to your case, for information regarding setting a hearing date.
Copies and/or certified copies can be obtained through the court. Please see the bankruptcy fees page for information regarding payment for certified copies.. For more information regarding copy charges, please contact our divisional offices, San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Rosa, San Jose.
Bankruptcy cases are public records and are available for viewing in the Clerk's Office where the case was filed. In addition, the court's Electronic Case Filing (ECF) system provides access to court files via the Internet. Basic information about a case is available through the Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS) or through Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). Closed cases that pre-date 2005 may also be viewed at the National Archives Records Administration in
PACER has a national index search tool called the U.S. Party/Case Index. With a valid PACER account, you may search the entire country for a specific debtor. The results will give you the party name, case number and jurisdiction in which the case was filed. The report will allow access to a case's docket.
The information contained in documents filed in bankruptcy cases are a matter of public record. Documents may be accessed in the Clerk's Office during regular business hours or, for those who have access to PACER, via the Internet 24-hours a day. Unless a document is sealed, all pleadings filed in a bankruptcy case are available for viewing. Debtors should note that filing a bankruptcy may adversely affect their credit rating. Credit reporting agencies regularly collect and disclose bankruptcy data to the public.
Attorneys must be admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Please contact the District Court for further information.
If you have been listed as a creditor in a bankruptcy case, you are advised to carefully read all information provided on court notices. If and when assets are found, you will receive a proof of claim form. If you have not received a proof of claim form, you may obtain one from any Clerk's Office or via the Internet. You may also send a letter requesting a proof of claim form, along with a self addressed stamp envelope, to the Clerk's Office . Please complete and file the original and one copy of the proof of claim with the Clerk's Office. Please enclose an extra copy of the proof of claim, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope, if you wish to receive a conformed copy of this document. For information regarding when a claim will be paid in an asset case, you are urged to contact the trustee assigned to the case. The trustee's contact information is located in the Notice of Chapter [7 or 13] Bankruptcy Case, Meeting of Creditors & Deadline. Additionally, you may contact the debtor's attorney whose name and telephone number is contained in the Notice of Chapter [7, 11 or 13] Bankruptcy Case, Meeting of Creditors & Deadlines. A proof of claim is not needed for a no asset case. Please note, Clerk's Office staff cannot provide any legal advice. The court strongly recommends creditors to consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney.
A claim is any right to payment held by a person or entity against a person or entity that filed bankruptcy. The written statement filed in a bankruptcy case setting forth a creditor's claim is called a proof of claim. The proof of claim should include a copy of the documentation giving rise to the claim, as well as evidence of secured status if the claim is secured. In certain cases, the notice of meeting of creditors sent to all creditors listed includes a proof of claim form.
If the trustee files a Notice of Possible Dividends in a chapter 7 no asset case, you will be sent a notice of the deadline (bar date) by which a claim is due. In a Chapter 7 "asset" case, the deadline (bar date) for creditors who have claims against the debtor is stated in the Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Meeting of Creditors and Deadlines. The date should be not exceed ninety days after the first date set for the Meeting of Creditors.
In Chapter 9 and 11 cases, creditors will receive a specific notice of the deadline (bar date) by which a claim is due.
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 date should be not exceed ninety days after the first date set for the Meeting of Creditors.
In a Chapter 12 case, the deadline (bar date) for creditors who have claims against the debtor is noted on the Notice of Meeting of Creditors. The date should be not exceed ninety days after the first date set for the Meeting of Creditors.
Generally, trustees distribute funds to creditors six to eight weeks after they send out the notice of the Final Report and Accounting, however, the distribution of funds may take longer than the above designated timeline. If you have questions, please contact the Chapter 7 trustee.
Each specific plan has different provisions pertaining to the time and amounts of creditor payments. Please consult the plan to find out the payment distribution schedule. If you have questions, please consult with your attorney or call the debtor's attorney and ask him when your class of creditors will be paid.
You should file a Notice of Change of Address with the Court.