Getting Ready for Your Bankruptcy Meeting of Creditors

21 Nov Getting Ready for Your Bankruptcy Meeting of Creditors

Every person who files a bankruptcy case is required to attend a section 341(a) “meeting of creditors” — although for most, this meeting doesn’t involve creditors at all. Usually, the meeting lasts about ten minutes, and it consists of your answering questions from the trustee about your financial affairs. Unless your financial affairs resemble those of Donald Trump, this meeting is nothing to worry about.

The meeting happens about three to five weeks after the bankruptcy is filed. You might consider meeting briefly with your lawyer before the meeting, so you know what to expect. You won’t need to buy a new suit for this meeting, but wearing worn out clothes is probably not a good idea either. The meeting is not an actual court appearance and no judge will be present. The meeting will be recorded and it is similar to a deposition — you be under oath during the questioning by the trustee.

It is a good idea to read the entire bankruptcy petition the night before the meeting of creditors. Make a note of any mistakes or omissions so you can tell your lawyer about them before the meeting starts.

The trustee usually will ask you the following questions, at a minimum:

  • What is your name and address?
  • Did you read and sign all the bankruptcy papers, and is all the information correct? If not, what is to be corrected?
  • Are all your debts listed in the papers?
  • Are all your property and personal possessions listed also?
  • Are your income and expenses still the same as when the case was filed?
  • Have you given away, sold, or transferred money or property to a relative or anyone else in the year before the case was filed (the length of time asked about can vary; ten years back is sometimes asked for)?
  • Did you read the Statement of Information (a one or two page handout)?

You should be ready to answer other questions which are intended to verify the information contained in your bankruptcy papers. If you arrive early, you can often watch other meetings happen, which might allow you to feel less nervous about your meeting.

Don’t forget to bring your photo drivers license, social security card, most recent paycheck stub, and bank statements to the meeting.

For most, the meeting of creditors is nothing to lose sleep over. It is usually the only official appearance you are required to make as part of your bankruptcy case.

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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.
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