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Meeting of Creditors


In each bankruptcy case, the law requires a Court appointed "Trustee" to question each Bankruptcy Filer about his or her financial affairs. This usually occurs in a Courthouse or the Trustee's office. The Meeting of Creditors required regardless of which Chapter of the United States Bankruptcy Code you utilize to elect to file for protection. No Judge is present at the Meeting.

otice of First Meeting of Creditors You should expect to get a Notice of Commencement of Case from the Court about one to two weeks after your Bankruptcy Petition is files. This Notice has the date, time, and location for the first Meeting of Creditors; i.e., the proceeding where the Trustee and your Creditors get to ask you questions under oath. It is also called a 341(a) meeting since that is the section of the Bankruptcy Law that requires this "question and answer" session. Albeit Creditors may attend the Meeting and ask you questions, this does not frequently occur. Rest assured, an attorney at The Drazin Law Center will be present at the Meeting, will sit directly next to you, and will assist you through the process. The Meeting is simple and usually only takes about 5 to 10 minutes.

When you receive the Notice of the Meeting, call your lawyer and advise that you know about the meeting. You will have at least 2-3 week's prior notice of the Meeting. Although the Meeting should only last 5 to 10 minutes, schedule for 2 to 3 hours of the day, in addition to your travel time, in that unfortunately the Meetings often do not start on-time. Prior to the scheduled date, ascertain where the Courthouse is located and make sure you understand the directions so that you arrive, at least, fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled start-time. A “dry run” the day before is a good idea. You are not required to be formally dressed at the Meeting of Creditors.

What Occurs at the First Meeting of Creditors
Although the Meeting of Creditors is not held in a Courtroom, the Meeting must be taken seriously. You will be placed under oath and must tell the truth. A recording of everything that occurs at the Meeting (beginning to end) will be made. You will testify. If any Creditors appear, the Trustee may allow the creditors to ask you questions. The Trustee conducts the hearing. Both you and your spouse (if you are married) must attend; if you have both filed the Bankruptcy case.

What to Bring to the Hearing

THE TRUSTEE IS NOT ALLOWED TO CONDUCT THE FIRST MEETING OF CREDITORS WITHOUT A GOVERNMENT ISSUED PHOTO IDENTIFICATION AND PROOF OF YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER.

How Can I Prepare for Hearing
There will be 20 or 30 cases at a time for each hour. The Trustee case load is usually heavy but it moves quickly. Try to be a few minutes early. No one will be allowed to badger, harass or humiliate you. You will be treated with dignity and respect at all times. Your lawyer will attend the first meeting of creditors with you. Your lawyer will sit next to you while you are speaking with the Trustee. Your file will be available to you to review. You should relax and not be stressed. Be sure to tell your lawyer about anything that is worrying you. Be sure you are completely truthful and respond to the Trustee's questions to the best of your ability. Your lawyer can assist you but cannot testify for you. The Trustees appreciate you having your photo identification and social security card or other proof of your social security number ready for them to look at as soon as your case is called. This will save everyone time.

What Does the Trustee Want to Ask Me?
The Trustee will attempt to ascertain if you have assets above the value of your exemptions. Anything below the amount of the exemptions you get to keep under almost all circumstances. The questions below are some but not all of the questions that may be asked of you. You do not need to memorize your lines.

The trustee will want you to identify your signature on the Petition we filed for you. You will be asked for any corrections or changes.

  • Do the petition and schedules accurately and completely list all of your debts and all of your assets? (If you have left anything out tell the Trustee about this so it can be corrected).
  • Does anyone owe you any money?
  • Do you have the right to sue anyone?
  • Have you owned any real estate within the last six years?
  • Are you expecting to inherit anything from any one?
  • Does anyone hold anything that belongs to you?
  • Do you have anything that belongs to someone else?
  • What got you into financial trouble?
  • Has your lawyer explained to you what a Bankruptcy Discharge is?

When the Trustee is done, if any of your creditors have appeared they get to ask questions briefly.

In Chapter 13 cases, at the Meeting, the Trustee may also recalculate the Plan payments. Your lawyer may be asked to amend the Plan by increasing the payment amount or the length of the plan or to make some other adjustment. Should this occur, your lawyer will explain to you the reasoning behind any of the Trustee’s adjustments.

After the Meeting
The Trustee may ask for more documentation. Due to our comprehensive review and analysis of your case with you, this does not frequently occur. However, should the same occur, please provide the documentation to your lawyer quickly. Doing so will allow the Trustee to handle and close your case quickly and efficiently. You have a legal obligation to give the Trustee all information requested of you.

After 60 days has gone by from the day of the first Meeting of Creditors , the Bankruptcy Court Clerk's office will check to see if anyone has filed a lawsuit, called an adversary proceeding, against you to object to your Bankruptcy Discharge or to the Discharge of any specific debt. If no complaint has been filed, commencing an adversary proceeding against you (these are rare), you should expect to get a Notice of Discharge in the mail about 75 to 90 days after the first Meeting of Creditors. Except for your continuing duty to inform the Trustee if you inherit anything during the 180 day period after the bankruptcy case is filed, the case is over Keep the Discharge in a safe place where you can find it. It is a valuable document. With certain exceptions, it means you no long owe the debts listed on your Bankruptcy Petition.

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