After you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will have a few weeks before your bankruptcy hearing (the meeting of creditors or 341 hearing). Although it is not like cramming for a school exam, there are some things you can do to prepare for your meeting with the bankruptcy trustee. If you do the following, it will help make sure things go smoothly and prevent bumps or delays in your case:
Keep in mind that most meetings are quite short, and your attorney will be with you. The trustees in this district are professional and will not try to trick you or make you feel bad. The anticipation is always worse than reality.
It is essential to know what to expect at the meeting. Your lawyer will discuss the meeting with you in detail. However, in preparing for this hearing, you should also review the email your lawyer will send you and our blog post.
If there are any questions that you are uncertain about, be sure to discuss them with your bankruptcy lawyer.
Provide updated documents to your attorney. Ensure you have provided updated documents to your attorney in time to provide them to the trustee before the hearing. At least fourteen days before the creditors' meeting, you should supply your bankruptcy attorney with copies of all of the following documents that you have received since you last provided documents to your attorney:
If there is a problem obtaining any of these items, Let your attorney know immediately.
Review your bankruptcy petition, schedules, statement of financial affairs, and related documents thoroughly before the meeting date. In a Chapter 13 case, review your Chapter 13 plan as well. Please do this at least a few days before your hearing, not the night before.
Going back over your schedules and documents is the most important thing you can do to prepare for the meeting. Not only will it allow you to find and correct any mistakes or omissions, but also make it much easier to answer the trustee's questions. If you do notice anything that should be changed, be sure to let your bankruptcy lawyer know.
You must show the bankruptcy trustee (1) a photo ID issued by the government (such as a driver's license, military ID card, or passport) and (2) proof of your Social Security number (typically your Social Security card, but other items containing your full Social Security number such as an original W2 or other government ID may be acceptable).
Quick Note: I advise my clients to place their ID and Social Security cards in their wallets the night before and double-check on the day of the meeting to ensure they have them. If you do not have your ID and Social Security card at the meeting, the trustee will at the least reschedule your hearing, which will cause a delay in your case.
Most meetings are via video. Your attorney will be with you on the video. In the rare instance when a meeting of creditors is held live, your attorney will let you know and provide the location.
You do not need to wear a suit or tie, but you should dress neatly. What you wear to work or visit someone in an office is fine.
If your attorney does not have your current cell phone number for some reason, make sure they have it before the meeting of creditors. I always let clients know they can reach me directly on my cell on the day of the meeting of creditors.
You must make babysitting arrangements for any children. The meeting of creditors is not set up to accommodate children.
Quick Note: Please try to keep pets away from the video. I know this can be difficult. (I once had a client who brought a small dog to a live hearing under his coat. That was interesting.) Of course, service animals are permitted, but let your attorney know ahead of time.
Double-check the date and time on the Notice of Meeting of Creditors. If there has been a change in the schedule, your attorney will inform you. Your attorney will need time to meet with you before the trustee calls your case. If you are late to the meeting, your case will be rescheduled or pushed back to the end.
If you are unsure about what to do to prepare for the meeting of creditors, be sure to ask your bankruptcy lawyer. When it comes to this vital bankruptcy hearing, it is best not to wait until the last minute.