The bankruptcy trustee’s primary job at a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 meeting of creditors (341 meeting) is to ask questions and confirm that you have provided complete and accurate information in your petition and schedules. In my experience as a Philadelphia area bankruptcy attorney, most of these questions are fairly standard. Generally you can expect the trustee to ask at least some of the following questions in one form or another:
- Did you review the bankruptcy petition, schedules, and related documents with your attorney before you signed them, and are they accurate to the best of your knowledge?
- Are there any errors or omissions in the documents you submitted? (If you know of any, you should let your bankruptcy attorney know in advance.)
- Have you ever filed for bankruptcy in the past?
- Have you read the United States Trustee’s Bankruptcy Information Sheet? (Generally, your bankruptcy attorney provides this sheet to you, but there are copies in the meeting room.)
- Did you list all of your assets?
- Did you list all of your creditors?
- When did you buy your home, and how much did you pay?
- Have you sold or transferred property of any kind to anyone in the last two years?
- Do you have any obligations of domestic support (alimony or child support)?
- What is your current employer’s name and address?
- Do you have a claim or potential claim against anyone (for any type of physical or economic injury)? (This question includes lawsuits, potential lawsuits, and claims under homeowners, auto, or any other type of insurance.)
- Have you had any accidents, personal injuries, or property damage in the last two years?
- Does anyone owe you money?
- Do you expect to receive an inheritance in the next year?
- Did you keep any credit cards? (You cannot.)
- How did you get into this financial situation? (Just state the facts, such as “I lost my job”. The bankruptcy trustee is not looking for a long detailed explanation.)
- How did you arrive at the value you listed for your house, car, items of personal property, etc.? (Generally, we will pull an electronic appraisal for your house or car.)
- Are the values you listed for your property accurate? (If you do not believe an appraisal or valuation is accurate, tell your attorney.)
- Have you paid all of your taxes and filed all returns due in the last four years?
- What is the cash value of your insurance policies?
If you have owned a business in the last six years, the bankruptcy trustee may ask the following:
- When did you start your business, and, if applicable, when did you cease operations?
- Do you have any inventory, accounts receivable, or other business assets?
- What was the form of your business (corporation, sole proprietorship, etc.)?
- Did you have any partners in your business?
- How did you determine the value of your business?
The bankruptcy trustee may ask you questions not listed above, if he or she needs additional information. For example, if you own a business, the trustee may ask you for some additional details about the type of business, why it went under, what happened to the assets, etc. In a Chapter 13 case, he or she may ask you about specific items in your proposed Chapter 13 plan. In Chapter 7 cases, the trustee is interested in any nonexempt assets that may be available for creditors and may ask additional questions about the value of your property.
Although it may seem like a lot of questions, the bankruptcy trustee will only ask questions applicable to your case. In preparing for the meeting of creditors, it is important to remember that the bankruptcy hearing is not a trial. You know the facts of your case, and it is unlikely you will be asked something you cannot answer. Moreover, your bankruptcy lawyer will be there with you. Simply answer the questions as accurately and fully as possible, and you should have no problems.