If you are worrying about your creditors meeting you can take a deep breath and relax. The creditors meeting takes place about twenty to forty days after you have filed your bankruptcy and you will be guided through the procedure by your bankruptcy trustee. A creditors meeting is usually very short, a lot of them lasting no more than five minutes. If you have nothing to hide and you have been as truthful as can be to your attorney and/or bankruptcy trustee, you have nothing to worry about. A creditors meeting is to ensure that your creditors have the opportunity to speak with you before any debt is discharged. It allows the creditors to ask final questions and ensures that the debtor is fully aware of the consequences of a bankruptcy.
The bankruptcy meeting is something of a formality that is required before a debt is discharged or reorganized. Debtors that file for bankruptcy must attend a creditors meeting in order to have their bankruptcy honored. Missing a 341 meeting can result in the dismissal of your case. If your case is dismissed for failure to show up, you will be required to wait a total of 180 days to refile your claim. Individuals that cannot make their meeting should contact their appointed trustee to make sure that a meeting is rescheduled.
A bankruptcy meeting should not be avoided and should be prepared for in order to ensure that the meeting goes as smoothly as possible. To speak with an attorney about your bankruptcy case, you should speak with a bankruptcy attorney who can guide your case through the local bankruptcy laws.. A local attorney will be able to guide you through a bankruptcy procedure that fits your specific economic situation. In addition, a bankruptcy attorney should be ready to guide you through the bankruptcy creditors meeting.
To contact the Bankruptcy Attorney, you may call our office at 424-285-5525. An attorney will make sure that you file the correct bankruptcy petition and will guide your case until your debt is discharged or reorganized.
The following section will highlight everything you need to know about the creditors meeting. At the end you will be well prepared to handle the creditors meeting and you will learn that there is nothing to be afraid or shy about.
What should I expect in a creditors?
During a creditors meeting you will be placed under oath and you will be required to answer the bankruptcy trustees question and another questions that a creditor may have. As mentioned earlier, you will be required to attend the meeting while your creditors will have the option to either attend or not attend. Creditors that attend the meeting will usually be there to ensure that they are included in a repayment program. In most cases, if you are filing for a Chapter 7 you will find that most unsecured creditors will not attend unless they have a reason to attend. During this meeting the judge will also be absent.
In the meeting you will check in with your bankruptcy trustee. The trustee will check your identification and your social security number. After the trustee has proof that the person present is the person filing for bankruptcy, the debtor will be placed under oath. Being placed under oath means that you will be required to answer truthfully to all the questions that are directed to you. Once you are sworn under oath, your bankruptcy trustee will ask you a series of questions pertaining to your bankruptcy petition. The meeting is not intended to discuss how you ended up in a bankruptcy, rather its meant to go over the logistics of your bankruptcy. In addition, it is the last chance for your bankruptcy attorney to determine if you have been truthful and to ensure that you are not committing fraud.
Keep in mind that your bankruptcy trustee is probably dealing with twenty other cases. Your creditors meeting should be completed within 5 to 15 minutes. A creditors meeting is nothing to be afraid of and after you complete the meeting, your bankruptcy case will either be accepted or rejected.
What type of questions should I expect?
When you attend a creditors meeting you will sit in a table with your attorney, your creditors and their attorney’s, and the bankruptcy trustee appointed to your case. The bankruptcy trustee will place you under oath and you will be required to answer every questions as truthfully and as accurately as you can. The meeting will begin with your bankruptcy trustee asking the first questions and then followed by anyone else attending the meeting. You will not have to worry about a bankruptcy judge asking questions as they are not allowed to attend the creditors meeting. In most cases, you will want to prepare to answer questions about the following:
- The number of dependents: dependents can be claimed when you file for taxes and they can reduce the amount of money that is withheld by the federal, state, and local taxes. In many cases, if you have dependents you can prove that your financial situation is complicated by the number of dependents that you are taking care of.
- You may also be asked about child or spousal support. If you are in the receiving end of spousal support, the amount that you receive counts towards your total income. Spousal support can come into question depending on the amount and the frequency that the support is paid.
- Your income and expenses: a bankruptcy trustee may ask you about your income and expenses to make sure that you have provided truthful information. You will want to bring bank statements, W-2, tax returns, and other financial documents that can help prove that your information is accurate.
- The necessity of your expenses. Debtors may be questioned about their expenditures to make sure that they are a necessity. Creditors want to make sure that your disposable income is used to pay necessities and not luxuries.
- Any information to the types of debts you have incurred. In addition, the trustee may ask about any recent credit lines or loans.
- Your tax filing status: individuals may be asked whether they are married, single, or divorced
- They ask questions about your current job. Your job and earning potentials are subjects that may come into question when you attempt to establish a payment program. Debtors may be required to prove that they can adhere to a repayment program by providing proof of their job stability.
- The source of your income. As mentioned above, income can include child or spousal support, but it can also include Social Security, workers compensation, unemployment, and retirement income.
- Trustee and creditors may ask you about the value of your property. Debtors may want to bring proof of the value of their non-exempt property. Non-exempt property is property that cannot be repossessed for liquidation. Non-exempt property also helps determine how much a debtor is required to pay back in a debt payment program.
- They may question about any document you submitted to the bankruptcy court. A debtor should speak with their attorney about the types of documents that they should prepare for the creditors meeting. However, it is generally a good idea to bring all the documents that you filed to the bankruptcy court so that you may present your backing documents.
As mentioned earlier, the bankruptcy creditors meeting is over in a matter of minutes. The bankruptcy trustee may only ask you a couple of questions or they may ask you multiple questions. Your bankruptcy situation and your financial affairs will usually dictate the amount and types of questions that you may face. However, a creditor is not required to attend the creditors meeting. Creditors may choose to file objections to your payment program until there is an agreeable repayment program. In addition, a creditor may try to resolve the situation in a court.
How do I prepare for a creditors meeting?
Preparing for the creditors meeting will help take care of any anxiety you are feeling. When you know exactly what you need to bring to your meeting and you understand what may be asked, you will be prepared to handle the meeting with no problems. The documents that you are required to bring with you to the meeting are meant to back up your bankruptcy claims. When debtors file for bankruptcy, they make statements about their income, properties, taxes, and other financial information. During the meeting you will need to bring certain documents that help prove that what you included in your petition is as accurate as can be. Often times the best offense is a good defense. To make sure that you are prepared for the creditors meeting, you will want to gather the following documents:
- Photo identification and social security card: As mentioned earlier, the bankruptcy trustee will be required to verify that you are the person you are claiming to be. A bankruptcy trustee can prove that you are who you claim to be after assessing your photo identification and your social security number. For your photo identification, you may present your driver’s license, your state issued identification card, or your passport. To show proof of your social security number, you may bring your social security card, your W-2, or a tax document with your social security number. If you do not have your social security card you may apply for a copy before the meeting or you can bring your W-2. If you do not have your social security card, make sure that you contact your bankruptcy trustee to ensure that you bring a document that will satisfy the requirement. Keep in mind that if you fail to bring either document, you will be required to reschedule your 341 meeting.
- Vehicle information: make sure that you bring your vehicles registration and any document containing information about a car loan (if applicable).
- Tax Returns
- A statement of your retirement account
- A valuation of your property such as your home, vehicle, and other estate
- Bank Statement: Bank statements are essential. Make sure that you bring a statement of your bank activity so that you can prove that you were truthful about your banking activity.
- Bring a statement of your home and auto insurance
In short, you will want to bring every document that you used to fill out the bankruptcy petition. The documents required will vary depending on your type of bankruptcy petition. During a creditors meeting you may not need to visit your documents, but it is crucial to have the correct documentation to ensure that you can back your claims during the meeting.
What to expect after the meeting
After the meeting is over, the debtor will undergo a different procedure depending on their bankruptcy chapter. If they filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the debtor will be required to turn over their non-exempt property to the bankruptcy trustee. In addition, the debtor is required to attend a debt education course and submit proof of completion to the bankruptcy court. Furthermore, if you have debts that are not discharged and reaffirmed, you will need to be ready to make payments. If everything goes as planned your debt will be discharged soon after the meeting.
For a Chapter 13, after the meeting a creditor may receive an objection to the repayment program. In this case the debtor will be required to submit another payment program. However, if after the meeting there is nothing wrong with your program or there are no objections, then it means you can begin to make payments. In some states, if all goes well in your creditors meeting, you may be required to attend a confirmation meeting. A confirmation meeting is where your attorney asks the bankruptcy judge to approve your payment program.
In addition, after a creditors meeting, the bankruptcy trustee may ask you to attend a hearing at a later time if you failed to provide certain documents during the meeting or if the trustee needs more information.
Individuals who are attending a creditors meeting should pat themselves in the back. This is usually the last step before their credit is discharged or before they can start making payments to their payment program. To speak with a bankruptcy attorney about the creditors meeting or about any other questions you may have about your bankruptcy, you may contact our offices at 424-285-5525.