Bank Statements: Maybe You Can’t Be Required to Produce Them After All

by Craig Andresen, Minneapolis, MN, Bankruptcy Attorney

March 17, 2008

Your bankruptcy lawyer has probably told you that you are required to bring a bank statement to your meeting of creditors, for examination by the trustee of your bankruptcy case.

But what if the trustee has demanded that you bring more than just the most recent bank statement? What if the trustee has demanded six months, or even one whole year, of your bank statements? What if you don’t even have the bank statements the trustee has demanded?

Rather than quit your day job to begin assembling bank records you maybe cannot obtain no matter how hard you try, talk with your bankruptcy lawyer about Bankruptcy Rule 4002. It is possible the trustee is overreaching, and that you have no legal obligation to comply with the trustee’s demand that you produce records not in your possession.

Bankruptcy Rule 4002(b)(2) provides, in part, as follows:

Financial Information. Every individual debtor shall bring to the meeting of creditors under section 341 and make available to the trustee the following documents or copies of them, or provide a written statement that the documentation does not exist or is not in the debtor’s possession: … statements for each of the debtor’s depository or investment accounts, including checking, savings, and money market accounts, mutual funds and brokerage accounts for the time period that includes the date of the filing of the petition….

The Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules Official Committee Notes to Rule 4002 provide, in part, as follows:

The rule does not require that the debtor create documents or obtain documents from third parties; rather, the debtor’s obligation is to bring to the meeting of creditors under section 341 the documents which the debtor possesses. Any written statement that the debtor provides indicating either that documents do not exist or are not in the debtor’s possession must be verified or contain and unsworn declaration as required under Rule 1008.

You can see that the plain language of Rule 4002, as well as the Committee Notes interpreting the rule, preclude the trustee of your bankruptcy case from demanding any document not in your possession. This obviously applies to bank statements, and any other burdensome document requests from the trustee, as long as you do not possess the documents.

While your lawyer may suggest that as matter of legal strategy you ought to try to produce such documents, Rule 4002 should prevent the trustee from compelling you to do so unless you voluntarily desire to comply.

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Craig W. Andresen is a consumer bankruptcy lawyer in Bloomington, Minnesota, with 22 years’ experience in consumer and small business bankruptcy cases. He is the Minnesota chair of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, and is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Bankruptcy Section. Mr. Andresen lectures often on the topic of consumer bankruptcy at local and national legal seminars.

Last modified: March 17, 2008