If you make a mistake in your bankruptcy petition, schedules, or other paperwork, you can correct it easily by filing an amended version of the form. The bankruptcy rules allow filers to amend their forms any time before they receive a final discharge.
Filing an Amended Form
To correct a mistake on a form, you'll need a blank copy of the form. (You can get copies of all bankruptcy forms at the website of the U.S. bankruptcy courts.) You'll also need to find out if your bankruptcy court has a local form you must use to file an amendment. You can get information on local forms at your bankruptcy court's website; from our home page, select your state under "Bankruptcy Information For Your State"; there, you'll find links to your local bankruptcy court.
Some courts allow you to complete only the portion of the form that was incorrect, leaving the rest blank (except for your name, case number, and other identifying information). Other courts require you to fill out the whole form again. The court clerk can tell you what your court requires. Once you've completed the amended form in the manner prescribed by your court, type "AMENDED" at the bottom.
You may need to file a number of amended forms, even if you made only one mistake. For example, if you forgot to list a creditor, you may need to amend Schedule C (if the debt is secured and you plan to claim that the collateral is exempt), Schedule D (if the debt is secured), Schedule E (if the debt is a priority debt), Schedule F (if the debt is unsecured), and so on.
Once you have finished correcting your forms and completed any local forms you have to file with your amended paperwork, contact the court and find out whether you'll have to pay a fee. The current fee for amending certain forms is $26; for other amendments, there's no charge.
Submit the forms and fee to the court, following the court's instructions as to what order the forms should be in, how many copies are required, whether you need to include a cover sheet or letter explaining the changes, and so on. You must also serve a copy of the amended papers to the bankruptcy trustee and to any creditor affected by your amendment.
Learn more about completing bankruptcy forms.
When You Should Speak to a Lawyer
The bankruptcy rules allow debtors to file amendments to their bankruptcy paperwork any time before they receive a final discharge. However, some courts will not allow debtors to amend their exemption schedule (Schedule C) after the deadline for creditors to object to the claimed exemptions has passed. However, the reasoning in a recent U.S. Supreme Court case, Law v. Siegel, calls into question this practice. Although Law v. Siegel dealt with a different issue, the Supreme Court made clear that a court cannot "bar a debtor from amending schedules to claim an exemption" if the ground for denial is not based in the bankruptcy code.
If you need to amend Schedule C but the judge won't allow it, you should talk to a lawyer.