How and When to Reopen a Bankruptcy Case

Sometimes people want to reopen a closed bankruptcy case because they failed to invoke important procedures while their bankruptcy case was open.

BankruptcyPetitioniStockPhoto.jpgFortunately it’s usually possible to reopen the bankruptcy and play catch-up. Common reasons for wanting to reopen a bankruptcy case include:

  • failing to timely file an Official Form 23 (pre-discharge counseling certification)
  • failing to name an important creditor or list valuable property, or
  • failing to take necessary steps to remove a judgment lien from real estate.

The process for reopening a bankruptcy case involves two steps.

Step One: Ex Parte Motion to Reopen. The first step is what’s known as an ex-parte motion to reopen the case. This is a request to the judge that the case be reopened without giving advance notice to the creditors or scheduling a hearing. The paperwork, which consists of the motion or request, and an order granting the request, is pretty simple and widely available, both in Nolo’s How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, by Albin Renauer, Steve Elias, and Robin Leonard, and various bankruptcy lawyer websites.

Step Two: Request for the Desired Action. The second step is to request (by motion and order) that the judge allow the desired action, for instance the removal of a judicial lien on real estate, or the entry of an order of discharge.

The fee for reopening a bankruptcy case is $274, so it’s obviously less expensive to get everything done while you case is open. However, if you are trying to remove a lien worth many thousands of dollars, or asking for a discharge an expensive student loan, the fee to reopen the case is relatively unimportant.

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About timothymccandless

Attorney at law, specializing in litigation, labor law overtime, criminal record expungement, partnership dissolution, and Real Estate workout solutions. Employment law claims and Wage and Hour claims Wrongful termination
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