The Meeting of Creditors is a hearing which all debtors must attend in a California Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding. The Meeting of Creditors is usually held 30 to 35 days after the filing of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition.
The meeting permits the trustee to review the debtor’s petition and schedules with the debtor. The debtor is required to answer all questions under sworn penalty of perjury about the debtor’s conduct, properties, liabilities, financial condition and any other matter that relates to the administration of the bankruptcy case. Additionally, the trustee may ask questions to make certain that the debtor understands the bankruptcy process.
If the trustee desires, he can request further information and documentation from the debtor, and continue the Meeting of Creditors. If the debtor fails to provide the requested information or fails to attend the continued Meeting of Creditors the case may be dismissed or the trustee may seek other relief against the debtor for failure to cooperate.
Read on to learn more about what happens at the Chapter 7 Meeting of Creditors.
1. You Must Attend This Meeting of Creditors
This Meeting of Creditors is set by the bankruptcy clerk at the time you filed your bankruptcy petition. The clerk then send notice of this hearing to you and all of your creditors listed in your bankruptcy documents. This Meeting of Creditors is usually set for 30 to 35 days after you filed your bankruptcy.
Be sure and arrive early for this hearing. The trustee will have an information sheet for you to read, and possibly some other form for you to fill out. The trustee may ask you under oath if you read the information sheet.
If a joint bankruptcy was filed, then both spouses must attend this Meeting of Creditors. It is not optional. Failure to attend can result in your case being dismissed or continued.
2. The Trustee Presides Over This Meeting of Creditors
Be aware that the trustee has already carefully reviewed your 60 to 70 plus pages of bankruptcy petition as well as your most recent federal and state income tax return. The trustee has gone over your documents thoroughly because if he finds any asset that you don’t have a valid exemption to keep, he will sell it and divide the proceeds among the creditors. He will get a 10% finders fee for this service.
At this meeting of Creditors the trustee will call your case and you and your attorney will go forward and be seated at the table in front of the trustee. This is the trustee’s opportunity to question the debtor regarding their assets, liabilities, and any other matter that pertains to the bankruptcy case.
Realize that the bankruptcy trustee gets very little money from the usual case. Trustees learn quickly to separate those cases with assets from those that have no assets.
3. This Meeting of Creditors Is Under Oath
The first thing the trustee will do is to place you under oath and verify your identity. He will do this by asking for your government issued ID card (driver’s license) and your Social Security card. Be sure to bring your driver’s license and your Social Security card. A photo copy will not be sufficient.
Do NOT wait until the night before your hearing to start searching for your Social Security card. As soon as your bankruptcy case is filed, locate your Government issued Social Security Card (not a photo copy of it). Be assured that if you don’t bring your original photo ID and proof of Social Security number, the trustee will not meet with you, and will reschedule your meeting for another day.
What types of photo ID are acceptable?
- California-issued driver’s license
- California-issued photo ID
- Government-issued photo ID
- Military photo ID
- U.S. passport
- Legal resident alien card
What proof of Social Security number is acceptable?
- Social Security card
- Medicare insurance card
- Most recent W-2 form
- Paystub with Social Security number
- IRS Form 1099
- Social Security Administration Report.
4. It Is Very Unlikely That Your Creditors Will Show Up at This Meeting of Creditors
All your creditor’s have been given notice of the time and place of this meeting by the Bankruptcy Court, but usually they don’t attend. If they do show up they usually ask if you intend to reaffirm the debt or they ask about the location and condition of their collateral. In most cases, this Meeting of Creditors is for informational purposes only.
5. The Trustee Will Ask Required Questions
Those questions mandated by law are:
- Did you review your bankruptcy schedules prior to signing?
- Are your bankruptcy schedules true and correct?
- Did you read the Bankruptcy Information Sheet?
- Do you have any changes to your schedules?
- Did you list all your assets and debts?
- Have you ever filed bankruptcy before?
- Are you the beneficiary of any will or trust?
- Did you list all your creditors on your schedules?
- What is the address of your current employer?
There are also discretionary questions the trustee may ask. These are questions he may have from going over your bankruptcy documents or questions he has regarding your answers at the Meeting of Creditors. For example:
- How did you value your home?
- How did you value your car?
- Do you have a legal claim against anyone or plan on filing a lawsuit?
- Are you expecting an inheritance?
- Have you transferred any assets in the last several years?
- Do you have any accounts receivables?
For a more thorough discussion of the questions the trustee may ask at the Meeting of Creditors, go here.
6. An Interpreter Will Be Provided If You Need One
Alert the trustee is you require a translator. The translation service will be offered to you free of charge via telephone.
Perhaps you have some questions. You can reach my by phone at 760-523-9090. Or just click on the ORANGE “Contact Me” button at the top of your screen. I’ll contact you back and make arrangements to meet with you.
Talk with me. I’ll treat you like a friend.
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