I do not think that clients should be afraid of what would happen at the meeting of creditors because it would basically just be a meeting with the trustee and the person would be there with their attorney. A lot of clients are nervous about it but once they go through it, they think it had actually been made very easy. Whatever we did would be on the front end of the case from day one, and we would try to spot any issues that might be a problem once we got into the case. We would not want to file a case if we thought there might be a problem with the meeting with the trustee. If we ever spotted any of those issues, we would recommend the client to not file a bankruptcy case.
After going through all of our work processes, we would make sure there would be no issues going forward. Most clients want a bankruptcy case where they would just have to file and then it would be really smooth after that, which is what we screen for and what we work for. This is why, when we have the meeting with the trustee it would usually go very smoothly and the client would be wondering why they ever got nervous in the first place.
Is The Build Up To The Meeting Actually More Difficult Than The Meeting Itself?
Yes, because most people are just not sure what this meeting is about. People tend to think they would have to go to court, whereas the meeting is just for meeting with the trustee and although these meetings are sometimes held at the court house, they are never actually held in the courtroom.
Would Someone Have To Have Completed All The Mandatory Classes Before The Meeting?
The only class that would have to be taken before we filed is called the credit counseling class. After filing the case, there would be a budgeting class or the financial management course. The person would have to take this course after the case was filed but it would not have to be completed before the meeting with the trustee.
What Misconceptions Do People Have About This Meeting?
The technical name for the meeting is the section 341 meeting of creditors and since it is called a meeting of creditors, people tend to think that a group of creditors would show up and ask why the person filed for bankruptcy and why did this or why they did that. In reality, since creditors typically do not show up, I always call it the meeting with the trustee because it would just be me, the client and the trustee present. The trustee would have to make sure that the person in front of them was the person who had signed the paperwork and they would need to verify that the paperwork was true and correct and then they may ask any clarification questions. This meeting tends to go by really easily, but a lot of the nervousness or misconceptions come about because when people read the title of what that meeting is and they get the notice saying that all the creditors could show up, they tend to think the creditors would actually show up.
Who Would Be Present At This Meeting And Would There Be A Judge?
There would be no judge, and the trustee would be appointed and randomly assigned through the U.S. Department of Justice. There would just be one trustee for the chapter 13 cases. She would be appointed and she would be there for a long period of time throughout the life of the case.
The Chapter 7 trustee would just be there to make sure the person was in fact the individual who signed the paperwork and that the paperwork was true and correct. Their function would be very limited in time because the case would only open in 90 days and then the case would be over.
How Should Someone Prepare For This Meeting And What Do They Need To Bring With Them?
The person would just need to have their photo ID, like a driver’s license along with proof of their social security number like their social security card or a W2. They would also need something that was provided by somebody else that stated what the person’s social security number is, which could even be a Medicare benefit card that has their social security number mentioned. We would have already collected anything else that we needed from the client such as their tax returns, pay stubs or pay advices and bank statements when preparing to file the case and we would have already sent all of that information to the trustee in advance of the meeting, which is why there would be nothing to take there. In the chapter 13, the trustee would ask the person who was filing bankruptcy to bring two additional pay stubs, and they would have to be recent pay stubs from when the case was filed. We would file the case and then the meeting with the trustee would be about 30 days later. The chapter 13 trustee would want to see if the person’s income had increased or if the deductions had decreased, because they would basically be trying to squeeze as much money out of the client as possible. It has become a lot more difficult to work with chapter 13 bankruptcy cases in the past few years, because the trustees are just trying to measure twice and cut once, with regard to the person’s income.
For more information on Why Not To Fear The 341 Meeting, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling 210-930-7000 today.