WHAT IS THE MEETING OF CREDITORS?
The Meeting of Creditors is a Bankruptcy hearing that is generally conducted by a trustee. Debtors are required to attend this hearing. If they hired an attorney, their attorney must also appear with them at the hearing. The Debtor's creditors are invited to attend the hearing as well. At the hearing the assigned trustee will ask, at a minimum, some basic questions of the Debtor regarding their petition and schedules. Creditors may also ask questions pertaining to the Debtor's debt, assets and income. The Meeting of Creditors is an informal hearing wherein the rules of evidence do not apply.
Although the Meeting of Creditors is not a formal court hearing, the questions and answers at the hearing are recorded and all statements are under penalty of perjury. Having an attorney at your hearing with you can be critical to your case. A Bankruptcy Attorney will know what questions are appropriate and can help Debtors protect their rights, interests and assets. Do not underestimate the need for an Attorney in your case. Having a Bankruptcy Attorney help you navigate the system, prepare your petition, and counsel you in your case can be the difference between keeping your assets and loosing them.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AT THE MEETING OF CREDITORS?
In Bankruptcy cases the Court assigns a trustee to each case. The trustee is an individual who oversees the case. Prior to the Meeting of Creditors your attorney will discuss with you the documents that must be provided to the trustee before the First Meeting of Creditors. Your attorney will then forward these documents to the trustee.
Generally the trustee will review through each case prior to the Meeting of Creditors. If they have any questions, or need any additional documents they will contact your attorney to request them. Sometimes the trustee will wait until the Meeting of Creditors to ask for additional documentation to help them better understand your case.
At the First Meeting of Creditors the trustee will ask you several standard questions that are asked in every bankruptcy case. If they still have questions after the review of your file, they will also ask those questions. Your attorney will appear with you at the Meeting of Creditors, and will be sitting next to you.
There will be other people at the Meeting of Creditors. Your creditors are notified of the hearing, and will be provided an opportunity to ask questions related to your Bankruptcy. In many cases creditors do not appear at the hearings.
The trustee will usually ask every debtor the same set of questions, and may also some case specific questions. Generally the questions are directed at the debtor(s), and the debtor(s) must answer the questions. If the trustee determines that the case needs further review, they need additional documents, or they have other questions they will continue the hearing to another day and time.
Unless otherwise informed, all you will need to bring is your Driver's License and Social Security Card. If you do not bring your Driver's License and/or Social Security Card your hearing will be continued regardless of whether or not the trustee had further questions.
Your attorney will review with you during the signing of the petition and prior to the Meeting of Creditors what questions to expect and whether it is likely that creditors will appear in your case. Please keep in mind that each case is different, and outcomes cannot be guaranteed.
If you would like to learn more about what to expect at your 341 Meeting of Creditors click here.