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a guide for the pro se creditor in a bankruptcy case - District of ...

a guide for the pro se creditor in a bankruptcy case - District of ...

7 GETTING STARTED

7 GETTING STARTED Bankruptcy is a complex legal world that has a vocabulary all its own. Many commonly used definitions are found in § 101 (as well as the Glossary at the end of this Guide). There are some other terms that you come across. Knowing these will help you understand the process. For example: Estate: The estate is defined by § 541. Refer to this section to learn what constitutes “property of the estate.” Prepetition and post‐petition: The term “prepetition” means before the bankruptcy petition was filed. The term “post‐petition” means after the case was filed. Trustee: A trustee is the individual appointed to administer the assets of the estate. A trustee may liquidate or sell assets, or in cases where there is a plan, a trustee may collect payments and disburse the proceeds to creditors. In addition to understanding terms, it is very important that you protect yourself and your family, and it is also important that you do not disclose personal information concerning the debtor(s). While you must provide truthful and complete information in your filings, you should take care not to disclose highly personal and private information either of you or of the debtor. In all other you should provide only the last four digits of the debtor’s social security number (e.g. XXX‐XX‐1234). The same applies for all account numbers. You should also never identify minor children by their name. List them only as “minor children” or “minor step children” or the like, and provide their ages. Do not include the full birthdate of the debtor – or anyone else. Only include the year of birth. In some cases, you may be required to file evidence or additional documents. For example, if you file a proof of claim, you may want to attach a document that contains and account number or other personal identifying information. In those instances, you should redact that information, leaving only the last four digits. For more information on Privacy Policy and Redaction Requirements, please visit the link under Bankruptcy Information on the Court’s website. FILING DOCUMENTS AND PAPERS Once all the forms are completed, you should deliver them in hand, or mail them to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Filings are accepted between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on business days, but the office is open until 5:00 p.m. The addresses for the Court are:

8 Eastern Division/Boston: Central Division/Worcester: United States Bankruptcy Court United States Bankruptcy Court John W. McCormack Post Office and Court House Donohue Federal Building 5 Post Office Square, Suite 1150 595 Main Street, Room 211 Boston, MA 02109‐3945 Worcester, MA 01608‐2076 Western Division/Springfield: United States Bankruptcy Court United States Courthouse 300 State Street Springfield, MA 01105 While the Bankruptcy Court holds hearings in Hyannis, the Hyannis location does not accept any pleadings for filing. For cases assigned to the Cape division, all pleadings should be filed in the Boston Court. To determine which division to mail documents, please refer to the orders you may have received from the Court, or refer to Appendix 5 of the Local Rules for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts. These rules can be found on the Court’s website: www.mab.uscourts.gov. CASE NUMBER All cases filed with the Court are assigned a case number, sometimes also referred to as a docket number. The case number is broken down into sections. For example, case number 11‐22665 FJB: the “11” is the year that the case was filed. In this case, it was filed in 2011. The “22665” is the number assigned to the case. “FJB” indicates the judge to whom the case was assigned. In this example, it was assigned to Chief Judge Frank J. Bailey. All pleadings and documents filed with the Court must have the case docket number of the case. When speaking to any Court Clerk personnel, including the Pro Se Law Clerk, be sure you have this information readily available. ELECTRONIC FILING ACCESS FOR CREDITORS Individual pro se creditors in a bankruptcy case are not permitted to file documents electronically. The Pro Se Law Clerk has an email address. However, pleadings and other documents may not be filed via email and the Pro Se Law Clerk will not accept any pleadings sent by email. An added benefit of having competent legal counsel is that all attorneys practicing before the bankruptcy court are required to file legal documents and pleadings electronically. This avoids traveling to the court to file documents, and alleviates concerns

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