In most of my discussions with clients, the focus is on getting the bankruptcy petition filed. Sometimes I am surprised to be asked by a client whether he or she will have to go to court. This question always surprises me, because the answer is of course we have to make a court appearance. I tend to thing everybody knows that, but obviously they don’t know about it if I don’t talk about it. Filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition is not like filing a tax return, where you file it and you’re done. There’s a lot more to it than that.
After the bankruptcy petition is filed, you will receive a notice from the court of the scheduling of a hearing called the meeting of creditors. The section of the bankruptcy code that requires it to take place is Section 341, so sometimes you will hear this hearing referred to as “the 341.” The rules require that it be held no less than 20 and no more then 40 days after the case is filed. It usually takes place about 30 days after filing. Here’s a video I posted at YouTube recently where I discuss what the trustee will be asking at this hearing.
Most attorneys have a handout listing the questions you can expect. The trouble with such handouts is that every trustee has their own favorite questions and even special interests. We have one trustee who seems to ask extra questions about whether somebody is going to die and leave you something. Another trustee is very interested in jewelry and actually is known to carry a jeweler’s eye glass in her purse. Some trustees always want copies of the car titles, while others don’t seem to care about them. The questions in a Chapter 7 case will tend to be more focused on assets, while those in a Chapter 13 will have more about income and expenses.
Many of my clients expect that they will be given a chance to explain why they filed a bankruptcy. They wish they could explain the series of events that led them to need a bankruptcy. In my experience, the trustee almost never asks anything about that and probably does not what to hear about it. Some of the questions may include something like the following:
- Are you still living at the same address that is stated in your petition?
- Have you read all the papers that you filed with the court?
- Did you sign them?
- Are they true and correct?
- Are you personally familiar with what your papers contain?
- Do you have any additions or corrections you wish to make at this time?
- Did you list all your debts?
- Did you list all your assets?
- Have you filed for bankruptcy before? When? What kind of bankruptcy? Were you discharged?
- Do you have a domestic support obligation?
- Have you sold or given anything away to a close friend or relative in the past six years? Some trustees may ask for a shorter period of time. If the answer is yes, there will additional follow-up questions.
- Have you paid over $600 to any unsecured creditor within the 90 days before you filed your bankruptcy?
- Have you operated a business any time in the past six years?
- When did you purchase your home? What was the purchase price? How did you set the value of your home? These are only asked if you own your home.
I start coaching my clients about what questions to expect almost as soon as I get hired. Then as we go through the process of preparing the petition, I can give a better idea as to what to expect based on the details of the case. If you have a good lawyer, he or she will be making sure that you are prepared for everything that might be asked at this meeting of creditors. Usually I just call it the “hearing,” because the last thing you are likely to see at the meeting of creditors is a creditor.
This post is for general information purposes only and is not legal advice. It does not create an attorney-client relationship. You need to talk with your own lawyer about this. The questions that one can expect vary from one part of the country to another, even though it’s set up under federal law. I am a debt relief agency. I help people file for relief under the federal bankruptcy code.
Kelly Law Office
11900 Wayzata Blvd. #116E
Minnetonka, MN 55305