The Meeting of Creditors Demystified

by Hermin Dowe on January 17, 2013

meeting-of-creditors

Whether you file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are required by section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code to attend a meeting of creditors.  At this meeting, the trustee and creditors will question you to verify the information provided in the forms you filed with the court. Although the trustee will usually protect you from unreasonable questions or harassment by any creditor, the trustee represents the creditors and will not give you legal advice or proactively safeguard your rights.

You have every right to have an attorney with you at the meeting of creditors, and it is highly recommended that you do so. When you have an attorney present, no one is likely to get out of line by asking inappropriate questions.

Even if you have an attorney present, realize that you are under oath and must tell the truth! Perjury is a serious crime. If it is discovered that you lied during the meeting of creditors, your case can be dismissed, allowing your creditors to contact and harass you as before. Furthermore, you might face fines and prison time.

Documents

Your attorney will advise you of all the documents you need to bring to the meeting of creditors.  Below is a list of examples:

  • Driver’s license (or other government-issued form of photo ID)
  • Social security card
  • Most recently filed tax return

The trustee may also provide you with a list of documents to bring. It is important to bring the requested documents for the trustee to review. If you fail to comply, the trustee may postpone your meeting of creditors to a later date.

Tips

To ensure that the meeting of creditors goes as smoothly as possible:

  • Be early
  • Be early prepared to go through security screening
  • Dress appropriately (not sloppy, but not too flashy)
  • Do not bring children
  • Review your bankruptcy filings before the meeting to ensure that everything is correct (if not, advise your lawyer before the meeting)
  • Be prepared to answer the questions
  • Answer only the questions asked (try not to ramble)

Questions

Finally, a few sample questions that the trustee might ask at the meeting of creditors:

  • Have you reviewed your bankruptcy pleadings and is everything correct?
  • Did you list ALL of your assets and debts?
  • Do you expect any kind of windfall (like an inheritance) in the near future?
  • Do you have any claims against anyone (like a lawsuit)?
  • Where do you live?
  • Do you own any real property other than your home?

The secured creditors (if any appear) will likely ask questions regarding the location, condition, and insurance status of their collateral.

The most important tip: Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

The Dowe Law Firm specializes in protecting your rights and helping you navigate the bankruptcy maze. But we can only help you if you call us, preferably when you are considering filing for bankruptcy. We realize that this isn’t going to be the most fun you’ve ever had; but when an experienced attorney is involved, the process moves along faster, your rights are protected, and you can get on with the process of rebuilding your financial life.

Please give us a call at 510-233-7700 or visit our website at dowebankruptcylaw.com to schedule a free, confidential assessment of your case.

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