When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, one of the forms you must prepare is the creditor mailing list (sometimes called the creditor mailing matrix). The bankruptcy court uses your creditor mailing list to provide all required notices to your creditors during your case. As a result, failing to file it properly can delay your case and cause problems with your discharge. Read on to learn more about the creditor mailing list, why it is important, and how to file it correctly.
The creditor mailing list is simply a list of all your creditors and their mailing addresses. It is also commonly referred to as a creditor mailing matrix, creditor matrix, or list of creditors. When you file for bankruptcy, you have a duty to make sure all of your creditors and their mailing addresses are accurately listed in your creditor matrix.
The bankruptcy court relies on your creditor mailing list to send out all required notices in your case such as the time and place of your meeting of creditors. Generally, if you fail to list a debt in your bankruptcy, it will not get discharged. However, even if list a debt in your bankruptcy but don’t include or incorrectly identify the creditor on your mailing list, that creditor may have grounds to object to your discharge (even after your case is closed) based on a lack of notice. In that case, you may have to incur additional fees to respond to the objection or amend your bankruptcy.
Further, if a creditor does not receive notice of your bankruptcy, it may continue garnishing your wages or otherwise trying to collect on its debts. If the bankruptcy was filed prior to the garnishment, you will be entitled to get the money back but you may have to notify the sheriff or other levying officer and wait until the garnishment is released. (To learn more about why a creditor can continue collecting, see the information on the automatic stay in bankruptcy.)
As a result, filing your creditor mailing list incorrectly or failing to include a creditor can lead to delays in completing your bankruptcy, problems with your discharge, and more expenses related to fixing these issues.
Unfortunately, each bankruptcy court has its own rules and procedures on how to properly prepare and file the creditor mailing list. Bankruptcy notices are normally generated by the court’s automated system. You must follow the court’s specific formatting instructions when preparing your creditor matrix to ensure your bankruptcy will be processed properly.
If you decide to hire an attorney, he or she will prepare the creditor mailing list for you in the required format. If you are filing on your own, you can obtain the necessary information from your local bankruptcy court. To find your local bankruptcy court’s website, go to www.justice.gov/courtlinks for a list of links to local courts. Or try www.uscourts.gov/court_locator.aspx.
To learn about other forms you must file, see Bankruptcy Forms for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. For in-depth information on how to fill out and file the bankruptcy forms, and handle your own Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, see Nolo's book How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.