Completing Bankruptcy's Schedule E/F: Creditors Who Have Unsecured Claims

On Schedule E/F of the bankruptcy petition, you list all unsecured claims. Learn more.

When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll have to complete and file a form called Schedule E/F: Creditors Who Have Unsecured Claims. Unlike secured creditors, unsecured creditors do not have the right to take your property if you do not pay your debt. (To learn about the other forms you must file in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.)

How to Get Schedule E/F

You can find the most recent version of Schedule E/F on the U.S. Court’s website at www.uscourts.gov. (To learn more about getting this and other forms, see The Bankruptcy Forms: Getting Started.)

Terms You’ll Need to Understand

The instructions at the beginning of the form assume you understand terms such as priority claims and executory contracts. Keep reading for helpful definitions.

What Is an Unsecured Creditor?

A creditor’s debt is unsecured if there is no item of property (like your house or car) serving as collateral for payment of the debt. If you fail to make payment on an unsecured debt, the creditor cannot take any of your property without first suing you and getting a court judgment. (There are a few exceptions to this rule.) (To learn more about unsecured debts, see What Is an Unsecured Debt?)

What Is a Priority Claim?

Congress has decided that some debts deserve to be paid over others. These debts are called “priority” claims. Here are some of the most common priority debts:

  • Domestic support obligations.
  • Wages, salaries, and commissions owed by you (as an employer) to a current or former employee (with certain time restrictions).
  • Contributions to employee benefit plans if you are an employer.
  • Deposits given to you by individuals who planned to purchase, lease, or rent goods or services from you that you never delivered.
  • Some taxes and other debts owed to governmental units, such as unsecured back taxes or fines imposed for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Claims against you for death or personal injury resulting from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In Chapter 7, these creditors are entitled to be paid first out of your nonexempt assets (if you have any). In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, these creditors (with the exception of child support claims assigned to a government agency) are entitled to be paid in full through your Chapter 13 plan.

What Is an Executory Contract or Unexpired Lease?

Both executory contracts and leases involve ongoing contracts in which something is still to be performed. Common examples are your apartment lease or cell phone contract. 

When In Doubt, Consult With an Attorney

If you’re not sure about your debt type, consult with an attorney to prevent unexpected financial results. For example, not all tax claims are entitled to priority. If you list a nonpriority tax debt on Schedule E/F, you may be jeopardizing its dischargeability.

How to Complete Schedule E/F

The instructions warn that it is important to be as complete and accurate when filling out this form, which means you must list all of your creditors without exception. You’ll do this in the following order:

  • Priority claims
  • Nonpriority claims
  • Anyone with whom you have an unexpired lease or executory contract

Filling Out Part 1

If you don’t have any priority creditors, you’ll check the “No” box and move to Part 2. If you have priority creditors, you’ll check “Yes” and continue with this section.

Listing Your Priority Creditors

There are five columns of information required for each of your creditors.

First column. You’re asked for the following by filling in information or checking a box:

  • Name and address of the priority creditor
  • Whether you, you and your spouse, or you and someone else owe the debt
  • Whether it is a community debt (To learn more about community property, see Separate and Community Property During Marriage: Who Owns What?)
  • If the claim should be offset (the creditor owes you money that should be deducted from the claim)

Second column. Again, you’ll insert information or check the appropriate box as follows:

  • The last four numbers of the claim account number
  • The month, day, and year that you incurred the debt
  • Whether the claim is contingent (you don’t know if you owe it yet because some event must occur first), unliquidated (you don’t know the amount of the debt), or disputed (you don’t agree with the debt) (To learn more about what these terms mean, see When Is a Bankruptcy Claim Contingent, Unliquidated, or Disputed?)
  • Check the box that tells the court why your claim is a priority claim or fill in the blank if the priority type is not already listed

Third column. Generally, you’ll list the amount it would take to pay off the debt in full. Do not include partially secured creditors that you listed on Schedule D.

Forth column. This is where you list the amount of the priority claim.

Fifth column. For some priority claims, there is a maximum amount that is entitled to priority -- for example only $12,475 in wages owed to an employee is entitled to priority. If the claim is for more than the maximum, only list the maximum in the fourth column, Priority Amount. List the remaining nonpriority amount in this column.

Filling Out Part 2

You’ll list all of your other creditors in Part 2 by following the instructions provided above. The only difference is that you’ll be asked if the debt is a student loan; a family law obligation that you didn’t report in the priority claims section; or a debt to a pension or profit-sharing debt. If the debt is something else, explain what it is--such as credit card charges, medical treatment, or vet bills--in the “Other” section.

Notifying Others in Part 3

Collection agencies need to know you’ve filed bankruptcy so they’ll stop harassing you. You’ll list them here. You’ll also list anyone who is in an executory contract or unexpired lease with you, such as your cable company. Anyone else that might need notice is also listed here.

Adding Up Your Debts in Part 4

In the last section you’ll tally up all of your debts and insert the totals in the following categories:

  • Domestic support obligations
  • Taxes and certain other debts you owe the government
  • Claims for death or personal injury while you were intoxicated, and
  • All of your other debts.

The last thing you’ll do is to add all the figures together and insert the total on the last form blank.

This article provides general information only. There are many legal issues involved and important decisions to be made when filing for bankruptcy. You must understand the entire bankruptcy process, learn about the applicable federal and state laws, and determine how those laws will affect your particular situation before you complete the bankruptcy forms. If you want to file bankruptcy without a lawyer, use a good do-it-yourself book like Nolo's How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to ensure you make well informed decisions about your bankruptcy case.

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