Once you have completed all of your bankruptcy duties, you receive a discharge certificate that officially releases you from the debts included in your bankruptcy. You will also receive a final receipts and disbursement summary to disclose whether any dividends were available to be paid out during your bankruptcy, that shows exactly who received money throughout the process. These discharge papers signal the end of your bankruptcy and your fresh financial start. The common response to receiving a discharge certificate is a sigh of relief; your debts have been repaid and that piece of paper guarantees that you will not have to deal with those specific debts again.
Here are a few reasons why you should keep your bankruptcy documents, even after you have been discharged:
- Protection from creditors. Creditors cannot go after you for the same debts, once you have been officially released from them. Storing your bankruptcy documents in a safe place can stop creditors from calling in the event that their records have not been updated.
- Ensure that your credit report is up-to-date. It is common for collection agencies and creditors to contact you even after filing bankruptcy. This can happen because their records have not been updated to show that you have taken steps to deal with the debt. Keeping your bankruptcy discharge certificate can help to validate this information if necessary. It is important to contact each credit bureau (Trans Union and Equifax) to ensure that your bankruptcy discharge is noted on your file. While one credit bureau may have updated their records, the other may not have, and it is up to you to make sure that it is included. Remember to follow-up by requesting a copy of your free updated credit report.
- Applying for new credit. When applying for a new loan, credit card or mortgage, the creditor may want proof that you have dealt with your past debts and that you do not pose a risk to them going forward.
- Filing a second bankruptcy or consumer proposal. You may need the services of a Trustee in Bankruptcy again in the future. Although no one likes to think about the possibility of getting into more debt; it is best to be prepared. Although records are kept in the government database, as well as your trustee’s office, having your discharge papers can help to move the process along and offers hard copy proof in the off-chance that technology fails to do its part.
- Knowing which debts were discharged and which were not. There are certain debts that are not discharged during a bankruptcy including student loans less than seven years old, over-payment of Employment Insurance that is deemed fraudulent, and child support payments. Having a record of any debts that may not have been discharged allows you to make a plan to deal with those debts.
What if I misplaced my bankruptcy discharge papers?
Contact your trustee to ask for another copy or get in touch with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy directly to retrieve it from their archives. Once you have your discharge documents, store them in a safe place.
Your bankruptcy discharge papers should not be viewed as unnecessary paperwork that can be recycled or lost. Think of them as the final step in the process and validation for your fresh start. You’ve already completed the hard part, your discharge papers prove that to you and to your creditors in the event that they need reminding.