The bankruptcy hearing is technically called the first meeting of creditors. The name is mostly historical; originally the creditors were invited to a meeting when someone filed bankruptcy. While creditors are still invited to come to the bankruptcy hearing, it is a rare occasion when they attend.
So what happens there?
Let’s look at who is in attendance at the bankruptcy hearing. First, you will not find the Bankruptcy Judge there. The Judge is prohibited from appearing at these hearings. You will find the Bankruptcy Trustee who is assigned to your case. Of course, you will be there and your lawyer, too.
What will be surprising is the number of other people there. Who are they? They are all the people who have filed bankruptcy around the same time you did. Yes, you are not alone! In my jurisdiction, the schedule calls for an average of six cases to be heard every half hour.
While these are public proceedings that anyone can attend, like any court case, you will not find the media there. No radio or television appearances for you. However, the bankruptcy hearing is recorded by the Trustee. Again, in my jurisdiction, it is very informal – a large conference table, an audio recorder, a seat each for the Trustee, the consumers being examined, and their attorney, and seats in the audience for everyone waiting their turn.
If you go to your bankruptcy hearing early, you will have an opportunity to listen to other cases and the questions asked by the Trustee. There is a standard format. You can find the suggested questions at the U.S. Trustee’s website by clicking here. In Bankruptcy, there are no secrets.
After the Trustee is done, the creditors get to ask their questions. However, since it is rare to see any creditors at the meeting, the hearing will be concluded. If there are any loose ends, the Trustee can continue the hearing to another date.
Last modified: November 19, 2013