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Meeting of Creditors: A Crucial Step in the Bankruptcy Process

by on 4/19/2013

After you have filed for bankruptcy (either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13) you are required by 11 U.S.C. 341 of the Bankruptcy Code to attend a meeting of creditors administered by a Trustee assigned to your particular case. Before you start worrying about which creditor is going to come and what they will ask you, keep this in mind: it is very rare for any creditor to show up at this meeting. However, the Trustee still has a duty to conduct the meeting and ask you certain questions.The meeting of creditors is mandatory for you to attend. You will be accompanied at this meeting by one of our knowledgeable bankruptcy attorneys. You will receive a notice from the Court notifying you when and where your meeting will be conducted after your case has been filed. The date and times are assigned by the Court, so you do not get to select when you want your particular meeting to take place. In general, the meeting will take place approximately 30-40 days after your case has been filed. The earliest any meeting is scheduled for is usually 8:00 A.M. and the latest is usually 4:00 P.M. Please arrive to your meeting 15-20 minutes prior to your scheduled hearing, being sure to allow time for parking and security as well.

Now that you know when and where you need to go, let's walk through what will happen at this meeting. Once you locate your attorney, you two will have a chance to discuss any important details that need to be covered before you walk in. This will also provide you with an opportunity to ask any last-minute questions you have forgotten to previously bring up. Moreover, the attorney will provide you with a bankruptcy information pamphlet that you must read prior to being questioned by the Trustee (if you were not given one earlier). Once you and your attorney feel comfortable, you will walk into the hearing room and wait for your turn to be called. Generally, there will be approximately ten other people who have filed for bankruptcy awaiting their turn as well. Once your name is called, you will follow your attorney up to the front of the room and you both will have a seat next to the Trustee. If there are any creditors appearing in your case, they too will walk to the front of the room and sit across from you and your attorney (keep in mind creditors rarely appear).As your case begins, the first thing the Trustee is going to do is review your social security card and government-issued picture I.D. Do not forget to bring both of these items. After the Trustee has verified that the information provided in your filing matches what is shown on your social security card and government-issued picture I.D., you will be sworn in. From here on out, your testimony will be given under penalty of perjury, which means you must tell the complete and accurate truth. Each Trustee has a list of 10-15 questions that he/she will ask every person that has filed for bankruptcy. Beyond that, the Trustee might have specific questions for you based on your particular case. Your attorney, based on their knowledge and understanding of your case, will review what they feel you will be asked during the hearing when you two meet prior to walking into the hearing room. Since attorneys from our bankruptcy law firm regularly appear at these meetings, they have a great understanding of what will be asked of you but obviously cannot guarantee anything. They will try their absolute best to make sure you are thoroughly prepared before you ever walk into the room.One of the Trustee's main duties is to make sure all of the information you provided in your bankruptcy petition which was filed with the Court is accurate. Moreover, depending on which Chapter you file, the Trustee will gear his/her questions differently. If you have filed a Chapter 7, the Trustee will, in addition to verifying the accuracy of the information, attempt to make sure all of your assets have been listed on your petition and that you have valued each asset properly. On the other hand, if you filed a Chapter 13, the Trustee will, in addition to what has been mentioned above, make sure you can afford your Chapter 13 Plan payments and, even further, question to see if you should be paying a higher Chapter 13 Plan payment. Again, your attorney will go over this with you prior to the hearing.

After the Trustee is satisfied with your answers, he/she will either conclude or continue your case. If he/she needs additional information, documents, etc., your case will be continued out to another date. If, however, he/she does not need anymore information to administer your case, he/she will conclude your case. Either way, you will then be free to leave!

Learn more about the steps of the bankruptcy process, or contact one of our offices immediately to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys.

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