Many debtors get really anxious when their bankruptcy hearing is just around the corner. Common questions I hear are:
What will they ask me?
Will all of my creditors be there?
How long will it take??
What should I bring?
What should I wear?
All are great questions.
A Bankruptcy section 341 meeting of creditors is a hearing attended by the debtor, his/her attorney, the interim United States Trustee, and any creditors who wish to appear. Generally, no creditors do, unless there are major assets to be liquidated, or if a creditor intends on objecting, and wants to get some answers on the record.
The meetings are recorded, and answers are given under oath. The trustee is the court appointed administrator of the bankruptcy estate. The trustee is not the judge in your case. Actually, the judge is prohibited from attending this meeting!!
The trustee’s job is to determine if there are any assets available to liquidate to pay creditors with. They job also is to confirm that the information in the bankruptcy petition and schedules is accurate and complete.
Generally, the meetings are 5-10 minutes in length. Generally business casual dress is acceptable. Read your instruction sheets and talk to your lawyer to confirm the dress code.
You should bring your ID, Social security card, most recent pay stub or proof of income to the meeting as well. Sometimes the trustee will request additional information, such as bank statements covering your filing date as well.
The trustee will usually ask you basic questions, to confirm your assets -cars, real estate, bank accounts, and then to see if any money is owed to you – inheritances, personal injury claims, tax refunds etc.
They may ask you about your income, any recent transactions you may have made, or if you have given any money or property to family or friends.
If creditors do appear, they will be given the chance to ask you any questions as well.
So, as you can see, these meetings are not too intense. Most debtors already know the answers already, and most of the questions are just yes and no answers.
If you have an attorney, talk to them to help prepare you for the meeting.
Discharge comes usually about 2 months after the hearing if everything goes according to plan.