Filing for bankruptcy requires listing all debts and assets on the forms. If a debtor has so many obligations to pay, he or she may forget one or more debts that should be listed. Should this happen, a debtor may amend the bankruptcy case to add any omitted debt. However, this can be done only while the case still ongoing, and before deadline for filing claims is over.
If the case is still open, the debtor has to file an Amended Schedule D, E or F depending on the type of debt. The filing fee is $30 to revise the Schedules.
There are cases when a debt can still be included even after the case is closed. An example of this is the omitted debt is non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, like domestic support, certain taxes and student loans, and the creditors did not get paid.
Although it rarely happens, a bankruptcy case may be reopened. Most courts do not like reopening cases to add creditors.
Bankruptcy courts are authorized by the bankruptcy code to reopen a case for various reasons, like to administer assets or to give relief to the debtor. However, when a court agrees to reopen a case, it simply allows the debtor to request further relief. It does not necessarily mean that the debtor will automatically get relief from debt. A lot of bankruptcy courts often grant motions of debtors to amend schedules in order to include omitted creditors. The courts usually allow this as long as there is no existence of fraud, the debtor had not been reckless, or the debtor did not intentionally exclude the debt or creditor in the schedule.
Amending or reopening a bankruptcy case is not the same as reaffirming a debt. When a debtor reaffirms a debt, it means that the debtor promises to repay a certain debt. For example, the debtor may opt to retain a vehicle and continue making the payments to the creditor by entering into a new contract. Consequently, the debtor will still have the debt once the case is closed.
There are also cases when a debtor would want to pay back a creditor even if the debt can be discharged in bankruptcy. This usually takes place when there is a co-signer involved, perhaps a friend or family member, and the debtor does not want the co-signer to carry the obligation to pay off the debt.
On the other hand, a debtor cannot choose what debts or assets to include in the bankruptcy case. All assets are included in the filing, although there are types of property that can be exempted through the state or federal bankruptcy exemptions. Additionally, debtors are not allowed to make a preferential payment to one creditor within a few months before a filing. A payment made to a creditor within 90 days before a filing would be considered as unfair to other creditors, and the trustee could take legal action to recover the amount paid.