FAQs for Debtors

  • Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?

    Corporations, partnerships and trusts must hire an attorney to file bankruptcy. Individuals may file bankruptcy without hiring a lawyer although the court recommends that you consult an attorney because bankruptcy law can be complicated and a bankruptcy may have long term financial and other consequences. The Bankruptcy Clerk's staff cannot give legal advice. If you have questions about filing for bankruptcy or preparing the bankruptcy paperwork, please contact a bankruptcy attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, please contact one of the following resources:

    1. Baton Rouge Bar Association - (225) 344-4803 (link)
    2. Southern Law Center /Southern Bankruptcy Clinic - (225) 771-3333 (Chapter 7 only).
    3. Southeast Louisiana Legal Services – (225) 448-0331 (Chapters 7 and 13).
  • Is there a fee to file a bankruptcy case?

    Yes, there is a fee to file a bankruptcy case. The amount of the fee depends on the chapter of case filed. Please see our fee schedule.

  • What method of payment does the court require for the fees?

    From debtors, the court accepts cash or money orders only.

  • Can the filing fee be waived?

    In chapter 7 individual cases, if the debtor’s income is less than 150 percent of the official poverty line (link) and you are unable to pay the fee in installments, you may ask the court to waive the filing fees. You may file the application, Form B3B (pdf), and file it with the Clerk’s office. This motion shall be set for hearing and the bankruptcy judge will determine if the fees may be waived.

    Alternatively, an individual debtor who is unable to pay the full fee at the time of filing may, at the time of filing the case, file an application to pay the fee in installments using official Form B3A (pdf). $100 of the fee must be paid at the time you file the case, and the remainder of the fee must be paid within 120 days of the filing of the case.

  • What are the differences among Chapters 7, 11 & 13?

    Chapter 7: Often called "liquidation," Chapter 7 is used by individuals, partnerships, or corporations. In Chapter 7, the debtor's estate is liquidated under the rules of the Bankruptcy Code. Liquidation is the process through which the debtor's non-exempt property is sold for cash by a case trustee and the cash is distributed to creditors.
    Chapter 13: . Chapter 13 permits an individual with regular income to file a plan in which the debtor agrees to pay a certain percentage of future income to the case trustee for payment to creditors.
    Chapter 11: Often called "reorganization," Chapter 11 allows corporations, partnerships, and individuals to reorganize their debts, without having to liquidate all their assets. In a Chapter 11 case, the debtor presents a plan to creditors which, if accepted by the creditors and approved by the Court, will allow the debtor to reorganize personal, financial or business affairs.

  • What must I do before I file a bankruptcy case?

    Debtors must complete credit counseling before filing a bankruptcy petition. You must also file with the case, a certificate of credit counseling which is furnished by the provider. Failure to obtain credit counseling before filing your petition may result in dismissal of your case.

    A list of credit counseling agencies may be found here (link)

  • Will the bankruptcy stop a foreclosure/sheriff’s sale on my home or car?

    Filing a bankruptcy case automatically stops lawsuits, foreclosures, garnishments, and all collection activity against the debtor. The Clerk’s Office will provide you a Notice of Bankruptcy Filing that you may provide to the mortgage company or sheriff’s office.

  • Where can I obtain the required bankruptcy forms?

    You can download the necessary bankruptcy filing forms from the Court’s website at the Court Forms menu item. The forms may also be obtained from the Bankruptcy Clerk's office.

  • Which forms are required for filing an emergency bankruptcy case?

    A.    Voluntary Petition (Official Form 1) http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/RulesAndPolicies/rules/BK_Forms_Current/B_001.pdf
     
    B.    Exhibit D – Individual Debtor’s Statement of Compliance with Credit Counseling Requirement (Official Form 1, Exhibit D) http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/RulesAndPolicies/rules/Bk%20Forms%20Dir%201209/B_001D_1209f.pdf
     
    C.    List of Creditors
     
    D.    List of Creditors Verification (Local Form 1) http://www.lamb.uscourts.gov/pdffiles/lr-form1.pdf
     
    E.    Statement of Social Security Number (Official Form B 21) http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/RulesAndPolicies/rules/BK_Forms_Current/B_021.pdf
     
    F.    Notice to Consumer Debtor under Section 342(b) (Official Form 201A) http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/RulesAndPolicies/rules/BK_Forms_Current/B_201A.pdf
     
    G.    Declaration Regarding Electronic Filing (Local Form 2) http://www.lamb.uscourts.gov/pdffiles/lr-form2.pdf
     
    H.    Certificate of Credit Counseling – provided by the credit counseling agency.

  • What do you mean by list of creditors?

    The list of creditors is a list of the names and current addresses of your creditors and other parties that should receive notice of your bankruptcy. The list is prepared by the debtor and their attorney and must be filed with the bankruptcy case. As a debtor, it is your responsibility to ensure you have listed current, valid addresses for your creditors. 

  • Where and how do I file a case?

    Once you have completed the required bankruptcy forms, you must file the documents at the Bankruptcy Court Clerk’s office at  707 Florida Street, Room 119, Baton Rouge, Louisiana  70810.  These forms must be filed in person if the debtor is not represented by an attorney.. The court does not accepted mailed or faxed documents.  In addition to the required forms, the court requires a valid, picture ID, and the required filing fee(cash, cashier’s check or money order only). The business hours and phone number for the Clerk’s office are posted on our website. 

  • Once my case is filed, what happens next?

    The Clerk’s Office will notify your creditors of your bankruptcy filing at the addresses provided.  A notice of the Meeting of Creditors will be mailed to the debtor with the date, time and location of the meeting. Attendance by teh debtor is mandatory.
    What is the role of a bankruptcy trustee in a Chapter 7 or 13 case?
    In a Chapter 7 case, the case trustee is responsible for the administration of bankruptcy cases and detecting bankruptcy fraud.  Creditors are paid by the trustee. 
    In a Chapter 13 case, the case trustee is also responsible for the administration of bankruptcy cases and detecting bankruptcy fraud. Plan payments made by the debtors are made to the case trustee and creditors are paid through the trustee’s office.  

  • What is a 341 meeting/meeting of creditors?

    The Section 341 Meeting, also called the Meeting of Creditors, is a meeting that a debtor is required to attend after filing for bankruptcy. The meeting is conducted by the trustee. The 341 meetings are held at 707 Florida Street, Room 324, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70801. The debtor will be asked questions about the information contained in the bankruptcy case. Creditors may also attend this meeting and may question the debtor about his/her financial affairs. If a debtor fails to attend this required meeting, the case trustee may seek to dismiss the bankruptcy case.
    The debtor will receive notice by mail of the date and time of the Creditor's Meeting. The debtor is required to bring certain identification information to this meeting: picture identification, copies of recent pay check stubs, and copies of tax returns for the two years prior to filing. Copies will not be returned.

  • What if I am unable to attend the 341 meeting on the date/time scheduled?

    If you are unable to attend the Creditor's Meeting on the date/time it is scheduled and that date has not passed, you must contact the office of the U.S. Trustee at (504) 589-4018 as soon as possible and request the matter be continued to another date/time.  The form the U.S. Trustee requires is found here (link)

    If the date of the Creditor’s Meeting has passed and you did not attend the meeting, you must file a motion with the Clerk’s Office to reschedule your meeting or the case may be dismissed. 

    For Chapter 7 cases, use this form (pdf)

    For Chapter 13 cases, use this  form (pdf)

  • When will I receive a discharge of my debts?

    Generally, in a Chapter 7 case, a debtor's discharge is entered between 90 to 120 days after the case was filed provided no objections to discharge are filed. The entry of a discharge may take longer if the discharge is objected to by the case trustee or a creditor.
    In a Chapter 13 case, a discharge is entered upon the successful completion of the Chapter 13 Plan, usually between 36 to 60 months following the bankruptcy filing.

  • What do I do if I forgot to include a creditor in my bankruptcy schedules?

    A debtor may add creditors to their case for a fee of $30. A list of creditors with the new creditors only must be filed at the Clerk of Court’s office along with the filing fee.  The debtor is responsible for noticing the new creditors of the filing of the bankruptcy case and for filing a certificate of service.   

  • What do I do if I disagree with an order entered in the case?

    A motion to reconsider along with a notice setting hearing and a proposed order may be filed at the Clerk’s Office.  At the hearing, the debtor will ask the bankruptcy judge to reconsider his order.

  • Can I fax documents to the court?

    The Bankruptcy Court does not accept faxed documents.

  • My case was dismissed. Can I file a new bankruptcy case?

    The U. S. Courts website provides information that may assist you in determining when you might be eligible to file another bankruptcy. Please review the material at the following link under the heading "Can a debtor receive a second discharge in a later Chapter 7 case:"

    www.uscourts.gov/FederalCourts/Bankruptcy/BankruptcyBasics/DischargeInBankruptcy.aspx

  • I filed a bankruptcy case in the past. When can I file another case?

    The U. S. Courts website provides information that may assist you in determining when you might be eligible to file another bankruptcy. Please review the material at the following link under the heading "Can a debtor receive a second discharge in a later Chapter 7 case:"

    www.uscourts.gov/FederalCourts/Bankruptcy/BankruptcyBasics/DischargeInBankruptcy.aspx

  • How long does a bankruptcy stay on my credit report?

    On average, bankruptcies remain on an individuals’ credit reports for seven to ten years. The Bankruptcy Court has no influence on the type of information the credit bureaus report nor on how long they keep that information in their records. If there is a question regarding your credit report, you should contact the credit agency directly.

  • What can I do to remove a lien or judgment against my property?

    A bankruptcy discharge will remove most unsecured debts, but does not remove liens which may exist against your property. Certain types of liens, such as judgment liens, may be set aside under certain circumstances based on provisions contained in the Bankruptcy Code. In order to seek to remove an eligible lien, you must file a Motion to Avoid Lien along with a Notice of Hearing and Certificates of Service with the court, stating the factual and legal basis supporting your motion. You must serve a copy of the motion on the creditor whose lien you are attempting to set aside as well as on the case trustee. A court order granting the motion is required to have it removed. Advice of counsel for actions to avoid liens is highly recommended.

  • What can I do if a creditor keeps trying to collect money after I have filed bankruptcy?

     After you file your bankruptcy petition with the court,  the Clerk's office will send a written notice of your bankruptcy filing to all of your creditors at the addresses you list on your creditor mailing list. Although this notice goes out within one to two days of case filing, it may take up to a week or longer for creditors to receive this notice because of mail time. If a creditor calls after you have filed your petition,  tell them you have filed for bankruptcy, give them the case number and the district in which you filed, and indicate that they will receive notice of this in the mail. If the creditor was not one listed on your mailing list, you should amend your bankruptcy schedules with the Clerk's office so that future notices about your bankruptcy can be sent to that creditor. Adding a creditor requires a fee.
    Once a creditor receives notice of your bankruptcy filing, they may not attempt collection of a debt from you unless they follow certain actions, such as obtaining relief from stay, allowed by the court. If a creditor continues to try to collect a debt from you after being notified of your bankruptcy, you should contact an attorney immediately for advice.