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Can a bankruptcy be reopened?

Most people feel a sense of overwhelming relief once their bankruptcy case is over.  They now have a fresh start, a new beginning.  There are some circumstance, however where a bankruptcy case can be reopened either by you, a creditor or the bankruptcy trustee.  The court can reopen your bankruptcy case for a variety of reasons even after you receive your discharge. So let’s look at those reasons and examine what it might mean.

  1. Paperwork Mistakes – In a situation where the court dismisses your bankruptcy because you failed to file a required form or made some other procedural mistake, it’s understandable that you might wish to reopen your case to fix the error. In this case you can request to reopen the case with the proper paperwork.
  2. Petition Mistakes – A debtor may realize that they: forgot to disclose all assets, want to add a debt they forgot to list, want the court to address a violation of their discharge or in general made mistakes in filing the petition.  Most debtors will ask the court to reopen their bankruptcy if they realize they made this type of mistake on their bankruptcy petition.
  3. Missing assets – A trustee or creditor also have the ability to reopen a bankruptcy case if they become aware that the debtor:  did not disclose all assets in the bankruptcy paperwork, if they were not given notice of the bankruptcy case or if they discover other glaring mistakes in the paperwork.
  4. Adding an omitted creditor – not matter how careful one is in compiling their list of creditors, omissions are a possibility. While the case is open, adding an omitted creditor is a matter of filing a motion to add the omitted creditor and paying a filing fee. It is almost automatic. After a case has been closed is more problematic, but can be done. A motion to reopen the case is the appropriate method and of course the requisite filing fee, but the approval of such motions rests strictly with the discretion of the judge presiding over your case. It is best to be all inclusive as possible of your creditors to avoid this aggravation.


In order to reopen a bankruptcy case either you, your trustee or the creditor will need to file a motion to reopen with the court setting forth the reasons why the case should be reopened.  Seek the counsel of your bankruptcy attorney to avoid mistakes in paperwork or if you are seeking to reopen your bankruptcy case. Be sure to carefully review your petition prior to filing. It can save you problems in the future.