Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Chain of Title

It is fairly common for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 debtors to have credit cards that went into default some time ago. It is also common for credit card issuers to sell delinquent credit card accounts.

In Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, all creditors are notified of the bankruptcy filing and can file claims. It is common for a new entity to file a proof of claim as successor or assignee of the original credit card issuer, but often such proof of claim does not include any evidence that the claim was, in fact, assigned. This situation is commonly referred to as a missing chain of title, missing proof that the claim has been legally transferred or assigned to the new owner.

Here in Rochester, United States Bankruptcy Court Judge John C. Ninfo II has issued several decisions addressing this issue. In one of them, In re Doherty and In re Benedetti, he held that in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the successor creditor was obligated to prove it was the legal holder of the claim.

In Doherty, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee filed his objection to the successor creditor’s claim arguing that (1) the successor creditor was not scheduled as a creditor in the petition; (2) although the debtors had scheduled the creditors that the successor creditor alleged originally held the claims, there was no breakdown in the proofs of claim to support the amounts alleged to be due, which differed from the amounts the debtors had scheduled; and (3) there was no assignment or bill of sale produced to demonstrate that the successor creditor was the current holder of any of the claims that were alleged to have been sold and assigned to it.

Judge Ninfo held that the successor has failed to produce a chain of title from the alleged original holders of the claims to it by either a series of assignments or bills of sale or by any other acceptable proof of ownership. As a result, he disallowed the successor creditor’s claims, since there was no proof that it was a proper creditor entitled to file a proof of claim under Section 501 of the Bankruptcy Code.

This issue can be extremely important in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy cases where it may impact the duration of the plan as well as the amount of money paid by debtors under the plan. In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, this issue becomes particularly significant in asset cases, i.e., situations where debtors have nonexempt assets that the bankruptcy trustee may sell to pay the creditors.

If you are contemplating filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, or are dealing with debt problems in Western New York, including Rochester, Canandaigua, Brighton, Pittsford, Penfield, Perinton, Fairport, Webster, Victor, Farmington, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Parma, Brockport, Spencerport, LeRoy, Chili, Churchville, Monroe County, Ontario County, Wayne County, Orleans County, Livingston County, and being harassed by bill collectors, and would like to know more about how bankruptcy may be able to help you, contact me today by phone or email to schedule a FREE initial consultation with a Rochester, NY, bankruptcy lawyer.

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