813 225 1918
1010 N. Florida Ave. Tampa, Fl 33602


Bankruptcy Proof of Claim

Are you a creditor in a bankruptcy case? Did you receive a Notice from the Bankruptcy Court advising you that there are funds available to pay creditors in a case and alerting you to complete and file a Proof of Claim? If so, then the Notice would have also included a blank Proof of Claim form for you to complete and file with the Bankruptcy Court. The Proof of Claim form is specific and comprehensive and may require detailed attachments depending on the type of claim you have against the Debtor. There are also time constraints involved in the process as well. The Bankruptcy Court will set a deadline for the filing of such claims. The deadline is called the “bar date”. Claims filed after the bar date are not paid except in certain very limited situations and only if the bankruptcy court expressly permits them to be paid—more about this in a bit.

In consumer bankruptcy cases (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases) you must file a claim timely (by the bar date) in order to be paid. The process is somewhat different in Chapter 11 cases. A creditor does not need to file a claim if three conditions are met. First, the Debtor must not have listed the debt on its bankruptcy schedules as “disputed, contingent or unliquidated”. Second, the creditor must agree with the amount that the debtor has listed as due and owing on these bankruptcy schedules. Third, the creditor must agree with the Debtor’s classification of the type of claim—such as secured, unsecured or priority—in the bankruptcy schedules. If any (or all) of these conditions are absent in a Chapter 11 case then the creditor must file a claim for the full amount which is owed by the Debtor and set forth the appropriate classification (secured, unsecured or priority) in the claim.

I’ve been a bankruptcy attorney for over 25 years and I’m aware of several situations where creditors have left “money on the table” by not filing a claims in bankruptcy cases despite receiving notice in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 consumer bankruptcy cases that the Bankruptcy Trustee is holding funds which are available to pay creditors. In fact, in many of these consumer cases, the Trustee ends up with a surplus case and will often seek to make contact with creditors listed in the bankruptcy schedules to solicit them to get a claim filed. Likewise, in Chapter 11 cases, I’ve seen several situations where only a small number of creditors have filed claims when the Debtor has proposed to make a significant payment to creditors with claims in a certain class set forth in the Chapter 11 Plan.

The Proof of Claim form requires creditors to choose the classification of the claim (secured, unsecured or priority) as well as the amount that the Debtor owes the creditor as of the date of the filing of the bankruptcy case. For secured accounts, such as a mortgage or lien on personal property or a vehicle, this can require some detailed accounting to property set forth interest, late charges, attorney’s fees and other charges as well as accrued escrow items. If this accounting is incorrect, then the Trustee or Debtor can object to the claim. Again, more about that in a bit. The Proof of Claim will also need to include copies of supporting documents evidencing the claim such as the loan documents (promissory notes, contracts), the security documents (security agreements, mortgages) and other documents such as judgments, garnishments and so forth. Failure to include the loan documents will likely result in an objection to the claim by an interested party so it is very important that the Proof of Claim be filed with these documents attached.

Claims that are filed after the bar date will likely draw an objection by the Trustee or the Debtor. Obviously, the best way to avoid this is to make sure that the claim is filed on time. The fact that a claim was filed late may completely invalidate it and prevent it from being paid. However, a creditor with a late-filed claim is not completely out of luck. If a creditor files a claim late and there is an objection filed to it, then the creditor can argue that the failure to timely file the claim was excusable. The burden, however, is on the creditor to show excusable neglect and it this is often a difficult burden for the creditor to meet. There are also differences in the operation of the excusable neglect standard depending on whether the bankruptcy case is a Chapter 7 or 13 consumer case or a Chapter 11 case. A creditor facing this issue will need to discuss how best to address the situation with a bankruptcy attorney.

A creditor’s claim may draw an objection from the Debtor of Trustee for any number of reasons. For example, the objection to the claim might dispute the amount that the creditor alleges is owed or dispute the creditor’s classification of the claim as secured, unsecured or priority. The objection might dispute the validity of the claim if there are no supporting documents to evidence the claim or if the debt is believed to be uncollectable due to being barred by the applicable statute of limitations for the type of claim that the creditor holds against the debtor.

A creditor can minimize the chance of an objection being filed to its claim by taking steps to ensure that the claim lists the correct amount owed, lists the correct classification of the type of claim, contains legible copies of the documents evidencing the claim and is signed and timely filed with the Bankruptcy Court. If a creditor is facing an objection to its claim then it should contact a bankruptcy attorney to develop a strategy for tackling the issue as oftentimes it is possible for a creditor to fight the objection and get its claim allowed and paid in the case.


Brad Hissing is a Bankruptcy Attorney with over 26 years of experience in representing creditors, Trustees and other parties in bankruptcy cases. He has extensive experience in Creditors Rights and Insolvency matters in both consumer and Chapter 11 commercial cases. He can be reached at or by phone at (813) 676-9075.


Attorney de Haan Lifetime Achievement AwardOn February 2, 2018, I received the Don Buck Lifetime Achievement Award from the College of Community Association Lawyers, at the National Law Conference in Palm Springs, California. The award recognizes attorneys who exhibit exceptional leadership in the field of community association law. It is given to recognize attorneys who have made extraordinary contributions to the community association industry and practice of law, and who have demonstrated a strong “mentoring spirit.” This award is given at the discretion of the Board of Governors of the College of Community Association Lawyers, and since its creation in 2008, it has only been given five times. I am the first woman to receive the award.

There is nothing like being recognized by your peers from all over the country, and I still haven’t fully absorbed it all. Receiving the award wasn’t the culmination or end of my career. It was a Moment.

A Moment is what I call a milestone in my life which stands out as special or pivotal, an event which heralds a change in direction and opportunity, and events which open a door into the unknown, the untried, unexpected, and the very scary. The day my sister died was a Moment. My wedding day was a Moment. The day I passed the Florida Bar was a Moment. Changing jobs after 28 years was a Moment.

There have been life-changing Moments: the day I met my husband; getting accepted to Law School.

In my life, I changed careers a number of times until I settled on the practice of law. During those years, I worked as a secretary, a teacher, an administrative assistant, a paralegal, a disco dance instructor, and a macrame instructor. I became a public speaker, and have sung in public as well (which was much more terrifying than the speaking).

I have been a community association lawyer for 34 years now (and counting), and have worked with associations as small as 2 units and as large as thousands of homes. And there is no manual to guide the attorney through community association law practice.

In the early days, when I walked into a client meeting, the men in the room said “You’re the attorney?” When I started in the practice, the widows who were now on the board of directors didn’t know how to write checks or keep the books for the associations.

Attorney de Haan AwardI have represented some clients for more than 30 years, and others off and on over the years. I have worked with naturalist (nudist) communities (and ladies, despite what your mother told you, you can go wrong with a simple string of pearls). Clothes or no clothes the issues, questions and problems are the same.

My career has included the initial implementation of the Fair Housing Laws related to children and 55 and over communities, and I now advise on emotional support animals. We have dealt with suicides and other deaths in the communities. A rude message to the Board was written on the cabana bath wall in human waste.

I have watched the increasing erosion of civility which evidences itself at board and membership meetings, and in emails written in the wee hours of the morning and personal attacks on the individual directors and managers (and occasionally on the attorney).

Yet, every week there are calls and meetings which end in expressions of thanks for my help, and the appreciation for finding a positive solution. And, every week brings something new and different. Throughout the years, by necessity, I have developed into a creative problem solver.

A few years ago, a friend noted that she was going to an award banquet where they were giving a lifetime achievement award. At the time, the idea wasn’t anything I contemplated or expected to be part of my life.

And here I am, the recipient of a lifetime achievement award. And having a Moment.

My Moments have combined to color my choices each time I came to a crossroad. I wear my Moments as a string of pearls, reminding me of what is important in life and celebrating each one an integral part of who I am today.


Community Association Attorney Ellen Hirsch de HaanEllen Hirsch de Haan has over 30 years of experience practicing homeowners and community association law. She regularly teaches classes on the subject to further educate homeowners and property managers alike. Ask to join our email list to learn more by contacting


The topic of the Hillsborough County Bar Association Diversity membership Luncheon last month was Hate Crimes: Yesterday and Today. The presentation featured a speaker from the Florida Holocaust Museum as well as a special agent with the FBI Tampa Field Office. In addition, my father, Otto Weitzenkorn, was honored as a Holocaust Survivor/Refugee and excerpts from a video interview of my father were played for the attendees. The topic was timely and the speakers and video were interesting compelling.

My father, who will be 90 years old in May, was born in a small town in Germany in 1928. He lived there with his family until March of 1939 when the family was uprooted as a result of the extreme hate and violence inflicted on them, as well as millions of innocent people, simply because they were Jewish. During his short time as a child in Germany, my father was attacked verbally and physically by the Hitler Youth; his parents’ business was targeted and he was denied the privilege of attending school.

Hillsborough County Bar Association Diversity Luncheon - Hate Crimes: Yesterday and Today

Attorney Joan Wadler with her parents, Otto and Elaine Weitzenkorn, her daughter Katie and Wetherington Hamilton attorneys Kalei Blair, Thomas Sciarrino Jr., Brad Hissing and of counsel attorney Elaine McGinnis.

On November 9, 1938, my father heard the boots of the storm troopers stop at his family’s home. The family business was on the first floor and the residence was upstairs. A burning flare was thrown at my dad and he could see the Synagogue burning; the Nazis demolished the interior of the family business. My father learned that his father, Arnold Weitzenkorn, had been taken away….arrested. My grandfather was eventually taken to the Dachau Concentration Camp. This was KRISTALNACHT.

Fortunately, as a result of the strength and initiative of my grandmother, Frieda Weitzenkorn, the family had already taken the necessary steps to be permitted to come to the United States. My grandfather agreed to deed his property to a Nazi, and he was released from Dachau. In March 1939, the family came to the United States. They left many family members, including my dad’s 84 year old grandfather, behind. Thirty-three, (33) of those relatives, including my great-grandfather, were put to death in Concentration Camps.

This is an extremely abbreviated version of my dad’s story. To learn more about his life, click here.

I want to extend my sincere thanks to the Hillsborough County Bar Association for highlighting hate crimes. We must all do our part to make sure this never happens again.


Collections Attorney Tampa

Joan W. Wadler has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1991. Her practice concentrates on Collections and Commercial Litigation, Real Estate Litigation and Associations Law. She can be reached at (813) 676-9082 or


Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Loading posts...