Nothing in the bankruptcy process creates more anxiety for my clients than their meeting of creditors. One of the best ways to manage that anxiety is by helping my clients prepare for this meeting. First, I don’t call it the meeting of creditors (that’s what it’s called in the Bankruptcy Code). I call it the trustee meeting. Creditors rarely show up at this meeting, and I think calling it the meeting of creditors adds unnecessary stress to my clients’ lives.
Second, we go over these questions several times before we file someone’s bankruptcy petition. We start in our initial consultation, our review of intake documents, and when we go over the petition with our clients before we file it with the bankruptcy court. By the time we actually meet with the trustee, our clients are well prepared for the meeting. Often the first thing that comes out of a client’s mouth after the meeting is how easy it was!
Keep in mind, these are not the only questions you could be asked during the meeting. What questions the trustee asks will depend on the facts of your case, but your lawyer should be able to identify any special issues she expects the trustee to ask about and prepare you for them.
You are not required (or advised) to provide detailed answers when the question only requires a yes or no answer. Answer only the question that was asked. Ask your lawyer for assistance if you don’t understand the question.
Finally, the meeting with the trustee is not a court proceeding. The trustee is not a judge and doesn’t make any final decisions about whether or not your debts will be discharged. Overall the meeting is relatively informal. Many lawyers (myself included) do not appear in suits but wear business attire instead.
These statements/questions are required. The trustee shall ensure the debtor answers the substance of each of the questions on the record. The trustee may exercise discretion and judgment in varying the wording of the statements/questions, if the substance of the questions is covered.
You will be under oath when you answer these questions. The penalty for lying can be going to jail and having your bankruptcy case dismissed.
- State your name for the record.
- Is the address on the petition your current address?
- Did you sign the petition, schedules, statements, and related documents and is the signature your own? Did you read the petition, schedules, statements, and related documents before you signed them?
- Are you personally familiar with the information contained in the petition, schedules, statements and related documents? To the best of your knowledge, is the information contained in the petition, schedules, statements, and related documents true and correct? Are there any errors or omissions to bring to my attention at this time?
- Are all of your assets identified on the schedules?
- Have you listed all of your creditors on the schedules?
- Have you previously filed bankruptcy?
- What is the address of your current employer?
- Is the copy of the tax return you provided a true copy of the most recent tax return you filed?
- Do you have a domestic support obligation?
- Have you read the Bankruptcy Information Sheet provided by the United States Trustee?
The trustee will ask these questions depending on your petition, tax returns, and bank statements that you have to provide before your meeting. Based on your answers, the trustee could have follow up questions. The trustee can ask for additional documentation after the meeting if he believes he needs more information.
- Do you own or have any interest whatsoever in any real estate?
- If owned: When did you purchase the property? How much did the property cost? What are the mortgages encumbering it? What do you estimate the present value of the property to be? Is that the whole value or your share? How did you arrive at that value?
- If renting: Have you ever owned the property in which you live and/or is its owner in any way related to you?
- Have you made any transfers of any property or given any property away within the last year?
- Does anyone hold property belonging to you?
- Do you have a claim against anyone or any business?
- If there are large medical debts, are the medical bills from injury?
- Are you the plaintiff in any lawsuit?
- Are you entitled to life insurance proceeds or an inheritance as a result of someone’s death?
- Does anyone owe you money?
- Have you made any large payments, over $600, to anyone in the past year?
- Were income tax returns filed on a timely basis? When was the last return filed?
- Do you have copies of the federal income tax returns? At the time of the filing of your petition, were you entitled to a tax refund from the federal or state government?
- Do you have a bank account, either checking or savings?
- When you filed your petition, did you have:
- any cash on hand?
- any U.S. Savings Bonds?
- any other stocks or bonds?
- any Certificates of Deposit?
- a safe deposit box in your name or in anyone else’s name?
- Do you own an automobile?
- Are you the owner of any cash value life insurance policies?
- Do you have any winning lottery tickets?
- Do you anticipate that you might realize any property, cash or otherwise, as a result of a divorce or separation proceeding?
- Have you been engaged in any business during the last six years?
If you’re thinking about bankruptcy, we’d love to represent you! Our initial consultations are free. You can schedule an appointment by clicking here.