Do I need to list all of my bills if I file bankruptcy?

Recently on our legal forum we had a user ask, "Do I need to list all of my bills if I file bankruptcy?"

Debtors will need to list all of their creditors and associated debts on the appropriate bankruptcy schedule. This is true even if you want to keep the asset or protect it from liquidation.

For instance, if you own a car and wish to keep the car and not have it liquidated, you may be able to notify the lender and construct an agreement which can survive the bankruptcy proceeding. Consult with your bankruptcy lawyer to determine how this can be done.

Do I need to list my utility bills?

Do you need to list your utility bills on your bankruptcy? It depends. If your utility account is paid in full or not passed due there is no reason to list it on your bankruptcy. Obviously, to retain utility services throughout the bankruptcy process you will need to continue to pay your utility bills as you are billed. The utility companies are permitted to bill you for any services provided after the petition for bankruptcy is filed.

If, however, you are behind on your utilities or they have been shut-off then the expenses should be listed on your bankruptcy petition because the utility companies are considered your creditors. Bills which should be listed if they are overdue include the electric, water, sanitation, natural gas, cable television, telephone and cellular telephone service bills.

Do I list credit cards with a zero balance?

If you have a credit card with a zero balance you may choose not to list the credit card on your bankruptcy petition. This is because the credit card company is not considered a creditor. If the balance of any credit card has been paid within the last year you will need to list that on your bankruptcy petition. Consider, however, if you have a credit card which has been fully paid and you file bankruptcy, the creditor may decide to cancel your credit card. In fact, this is a common practice.

So what's the bottom line? If you have a creditor they must be listed. If you decide you want to repay some creditors or negotiate keeping certain assets you may be able to do this even if you decide to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which generally allows non-exempt assets to be liquidated. If you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy the debts will be scheduled and repaid over a 3 or 5 year debt repayment period.

What happens to overdue utility bills if you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy? Overdue utility bills are unsecured debts and they may be discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy the overdue bills will be repaid within your debt repayment plan and any overdue balances which remain at the end of the payment period will be discharge at the completion of the plan.

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