What are claims? How are claims filed?

The term "claim" in bankruptcy is used in the broadest sense. A claim is any right to payment held by a person or company against the debtor(s) and the debtor's bankruptcy estate. A claim does not have to be a past due amount but can include an anticipated sum of money which will come due in the future.

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 any document giving rise to the claim as well as evidence of the secured status of the debt if the debt is secured. Generally, claims in chapters 11, 12 and 13 cases must be filed within ninety (90) days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors. In the Northern District of Iowa, all chapter 7 cases are opened as "no asset" cases. The bankruptcy trustee will determine if there are assets to be distributed. If so, the Clerk of Court will give creditors notice of a deadline to file claims for debts owed to them by the debtor(s). Creditors should not file a claim in a chapter 7 case unless a claims deadline is set. Creditors will have 90 days after the clerk's notice within which to file their claim with the bankruptcy court. Claims of governmental units must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days of the date the petition was filed.