You filed for bankruptcy. A year later, you’re sitting at your dining room table staring at a billing statement for medical services. Do you have to pay it?
Step 1 – Gather the Relevant Data
- When exactly (i.e. what date) was your bankruptcy case filed?
- What chapter of bankruptcy did you file under? Chapter 7? Chapter 13?
- Was this bill listed on your bankruptcy schedules?
- When was the debt incurred (in this example – what was the date of service)?
- What is the billing address and the statement date?
Step 2 – Determine What Kind of Debt This Is
- If the debt was incurred before your bankruptcy filing date, then it is a pre-petition debt.
- If the debt was incurred after your bankruptcy filing date, then it is a post-petition debt.
- If the debt was listed on your bankruptcy schedules, then check the address to determine if notice was sent out to the right place. Also check the statement date. If within a few days of your bankruptcy filing date, then this may be a harmless “letters crossed in the mail” situation. If the statement date is substantially after your bankruptcy filing date, then you are likely looking at a stay or discharge violation.
- If the debt was not listed on your bankruptcy schedules and you filed a Chapter 7 case that had no distributions (the trustee did not sell any non-exempt assets, recover any preferences, or void any transfers) and the debt was otherwise dischargeable, then the debt is discharged. (This is a result of case law called “Guseck” in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. If you filed bankruptcy in another district, a different result may occur.)
- If the debt was not listed on your bankruptcy schedules and you filed a Chapter 13 case or a Chapter 7 case that had distributions, then the debt is non-dischargeable under 11 U.S.C. sec. 523(a)(3).
- Post-petition debts are generally non-dischargeable with one exception.
- If you file Chapter 13, then later convert to Chapter 7, debts incurred between the filing and conversion dates may be dischargeable under 11 U.S.C. sec. 348(d).