The Meeting of Creditors [also known as: section 341(a) meeting] is a requirement in every bankruptcy case. It’s generally the only hearing that a debtor has to attend during their bankruptcy case. It is also a great source of anxiety and concern for most bankruptcy filers.
The Meeting of Creditors should be handled seriously and with care, but it is very rare for it to go awry. So you should relax and try not to worry about it. There is absolutely no point in stressing out about it.
The Meeting of Creditors generally occurs approximately 1 month after your bankruptcy case is filed. It may be held in a bankruptcy court location or even in a general office building. Your Meeting of Creditors location will be assigned to you based on your residential address.
The most important requirement is that you bring both your actual social security card and a government issued photo ID (i.e. driver’s license, state id card, etc.). If you do not have either one of these you should let your bankruptcy attorney know, as there are other forms of identification and documents that can be an acceptable substitute.
Once you arrive at the location of your meeting of creditors, you will see many other people who filed bankruptcy there as well. You should pick up a green colored bankruptcy information sheet and read it. This document is issued by the United States Treasury Department and has basic information about bankruptcy that you are required to read.
You should also check to see if your bankruptcy trustee has any required questionnaires that must be filled out by each debtor. If the trustee has a questionnaire, fill it out and answer truthfully.
The bankruptcy trustee may also have a calendar posted on a wall. If so, you may be able to check your place in the calendar and see when you will be called.
Once you enter the examination room, you should see anywhere from 10 to 30 people sitting inside. There is no talking while the trustee is conducting examinations and phones should be turned off. You should also take your driver’s license and social security card out of your wallet and hold it in your hands, while you wait to be called by the Trustee.
The Bankruptcy Trustee sits at the front of the room and will make an announcement once the examinations start for your allotted time. If there is a questionnaire to fill out, the bankruptcy trustee will inform everyone of that requirement during the announcement. The bankruptcy trustee will also inform everyone that everyone is required to read the green bankruptcy information sheet.
After the announcement, the bankruptcy trustee will call individual bankruptcy cases to the front. When your case is called, you should walk to the front, hand over your social security card and government issued photo id and prepare to be sworn under oath. A bankruptcy lawyer from our office will accompany you to the desk and sit beside you.
After you have been sworn in, you will be asked at least about 10 yes or no questions. The following are a list of questions the trustee will ask you in some form:
- State your name for the record. Is the address on the petition your current address?
- Did you sign the petition and related documents and is the signature your own?
- Did you read the petition, schedules, statements and related documents before you signed them?
- Are you personally familiar with the information contained in the petition, schedules, statements and related documents? To the best of your knowledge, is the information contained therein true and correct. Are there any errors or omissions to bring to may attention at this time?
- Are all your assets identified on the schedules? Have you listed all of your creditors on the schedules?
- Have you previously filed bankruptcy?
- Is the employment information listed on your petition correct?
- Is this a true and correct copy of the most recent tax return you filed?
- Do you have any domestic support obligations?
- Have you read the green bankruptcy information sheet?
Other questions the trustee may ask include the following:
- Have you transferred, sold or given away any property in the past 4 years?
- Will you receive a tax refund?
Based upon the facts of each case, the trustee may ask additional questions. However, most examinations last less than 5 minutes.
Questions may differ based upon whether you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A trustee’s responsibilities differ from Chapter 7 to Chapter 13, so the questions are usually not exactly the same.
Although most people are very anxious prior to a meeting of creditors, nearly all of them feel a tremendous sense of relief after the meeting of creditors is over. And usually they walk away feeling that the examination was very easy and nothing that they should have been stressed out about to begin with.