Top 5 Tips to Read Before Your Bankruptcy Meeting of Creditors

Sacramento Bankruptcy Lawyer Rick MorinA debtor in a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy will only have one bankruptcy hearing before his or her bankruptcy discharge. This is known as the “meeting of creditors,” sometimes called a “341 hearing.”

The meeting of creditors is an opportunity for the Bankruptcy Trustee and your creditors to question you under oath about your bankruptcy paperwork. Truth be told, creditors almost never show up. Thus, the Bankruptcy Trustee is the only one asking questions. A typical meeting of creditors will last about 5 to 10 minutes. It is really not as bad as most people assume.

Here are my Top 5 Tips to Read Before Your Bankruptcy Hearing:

1. Be on Time!

While this seems obvious, it really is one of the most important things to keep in mind. Being on time shows the Bankruptcy Trustee that you take the hearing seriously and that you are ready and willing to cooperate and earn your bankruptcy discharge. So, be on time!

2. Don’t Forget Your Driver’s License and Social Security Card

The Bankruptcy Trustee is required by law to positively identify the debtor before the meeting can begin. The Trustee will ask to see your driver’s license and proof of your social security number. Without these two vital documents, the Trustee will be unable to proceed with the hearing. If you have misplaced your social security card, it is important to visit the Social Security Administration quickly to get a new card.

3. Relax and Tell the Truth

Almost everyone is nervous before their meeting of creditors. This is normal. It is important to keep in mind that the Trustee is there to ask basic questions about your bankruptcy paperwork. Just because you are asked a question does not mean that you are in trouble. Listen carefully to each question and answer truthfully. To the extent that there is problem during your hearing, I will ask the Trustee for a continuance to allow us to resolve the issue.

4. If Anything Important Happens Before the Hearing, Tell Your Bankruptcy Lawyer

If any large “life events” happen between the filing of your bankruptcy petition and your meeting of creditors, it is important that you tell your attorney. Examples include closing bank accounts, inheriting money, winning the lottery, getting a new job, losing an old job, or being sued. These are things that need to be discussed with your attorney before the hearing, not during the hearing!

5. Answer Confidently 

The Bankruptcy Trustees are very good at picking up on deception. I have noticed that debtors that hesitate and answer questions without confidence tend to get more scrutiny from the Trustees. There is no reason to doubt yourself at the meeting of creditors if you have been open and honest when preparing your bankruptcy petition. Relax and your hearing will be over before you know it!

If you have any questions about the bankruptcy process, you can call Sacramento Bankruptcy Attorney Rick Morin at (916) 333-2222.