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 matrix or list of creditors). The creditor mailing list includes the names of your creditors and their mailing addresses.
The bankruptcy court uses the list to provide all required notices to your creditors during your case, and failing to file it properly can 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.
A bankruptcy case starts when you complete and file a packet of official bankruptcy forms. The primary form, called the petition, tells the court which chapter you intend to file, as well as your name, address, and other information. Details about your financial situation—such as income, debts, creditors, and property—are listed in additional forms called "schedules."
Additionally, you'll provide the names and addresses of your creditors on a document called a "creditor matrix." The court uses the matrix to create a mailing list of your creditors. The list will be made available online through the Pacer system (the court's online case management system).
The creditor matrix is not an official bankruptcy form. For instructions on how to create it, you'll want to contact your local court or consult the court's website.
(For more information, see How to Fill Out Bankruptcy Forms.)
The court will use the creditor mailing list to notify creditors of your bankruptcy case and alert your creditors to the automatic stay order that prohibits most creditors from continuing collection actions. The bankruptcy court also relies on your creditor mailing list to send out the time and place of your meeting of creditors—the one hearing all filers must attend—and other important information.
You, your attorney, or creditor will also be able to use it to quickly obtain necessary addresses when you need to provide notification about an upcoming motion or similar event.
Filing your creditor mailing list incorrectly can lead to delays in completing your bankruptcy, problems with your discharge, and more expenses related to fixing these issues.
Generally, if you fail to list a debt in your bankruptcy, it won't get discharged. Even if you list a debt in your bankruptcy, but you don't include it or incorrectly identify the creditor on your mailing list, that creditor might have grounds to object to your discharge (even after your case is closed) based on a lack of notice. In that case, you might have to incur additional fees to respond to the objection or amend your bankruptcy.
Further, a creditor who doesn't receive notice of your bankruptcy might continue garnishing your wages or otherwise trying to collect on its debts. If the bankruptcy were filed before to the garnishment, you'd be entitled to get the money back, but you might have to notify the sheriff or other levying officer and wait until the garnishment is released.
Each bankruptcy court has its own rules and procedures on how to properly prepare and file the creditor mailing list. You must follow the court's specific formatting instructions to ensure your bankruptcy will be processed properly.
If you 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 information from your local bankruptcy court. To find your local bankruptcy court's website, use the United States Courts Court Locator tool.
To learn about other forms, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms. For in-depth information on handling your own Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, see Nolo's book How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O'Neill and Albin Renauer, J.D.