Bankruptcy Meeting of Creditors: What to Bring & Expect
WHEN WILL MY HEARING BE SCHEDULED?
The Bankruptcy Code requires that all debtors participate in a Meeting of Creditors “within a reasonable time” after your case is filed. While “a reasonable time” is no longer defined by the Code, most of our clients have their Meeting of Creditors within 30-40 days from when their Petition is filed. Debtors are typically given sufficient notice to plan for this hearing, so you will have plenty of time to make child care arrangements, get approval for time off of work, find transportation, and make other plans.
CAN I CHANGE MY HEARING DATE?
Unfortunately we cannot request that your hearing take place on a specific date or that your hearing won’t be held on a certain date, so you should make immediate plans to attend once you receive the Notice from the Court. We also cannot ask that the hearing be continued to another date except in very rare circumstances. These exceptions would be for situations like surgery/hospitalization that cannot be changed, military deployment, and traveling for work. If you have such a conflict, please call the office and we will see if we can have the date changed.
WHERE WILL THE HEARING TAKE PLACE?
All Creditors’ Meetings for bankruptcy cases filed in the West Palm Division of the Southern District of Florida are held at the same place: 1515 N Flagler Dr., Room 870, West Palm Beach 33401. If you get lost on your way to the hearing and FOR DIRECTIONS ONLY, you can call the Main number at (561) 514-4100. Their hours of operation are 8:30a-4:00p. All other questions should be directed to your attorney as the clerks are prohibited from giving legal advice.
WHERE DO I PARK?
Parking is free (but valet only) and the garage is attached to the building. You will need to leave your cell phone in your vehicle, as they are not allowed in any hearing rooms.
WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING?
The bankruptcy Trustee cannot hold the Meeting of Creditors without verification of your identity. The instructions from the court on the back of the §341 Notice of Meeting of Creditors state The debtor (both spouses in a joint case) must be present with required original government−issued photo identification and proof of the social security number (or, if applicable, Tax ID) at the meeting to be questioned under oath by the trustee and by creditors. Copies will NOT be accepted, and you will have to reappear at the continued hearing if you do not have the required identification.
YOU MUST BRING ANY DOCUMENTS WE ASKED YOU TO BRING AND:
|OriginalGovernment Issued Photo Identification||OriginalProof of Social Security Number*|
*Not all Trustees accept all forms of Social Security Number verification. Be sure to read any documents from your Trustee as it may outline what specific proof s/he will allow.
- Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case, Meeting of Creditors & Deadlines. It has all of the contact and other important information pertaining to your case.
- Current proof of insurance for any items secured by collateral in case a creditor desires proof.
- Your 2 most recent paystubs to answer any questions about income.
- Any other items we asked you to bring with you.
- Weapons of any kind, including pocket knives and cigarette lighters.
- Cell phones, PDAs, tablets, laptops, and camera-phones or other recording devices. If you have these items, they will be confiscated by the security officer and returned to you upon your departure. However, no safekeeping is inferred so your phone may not be there when you leave. We strongly recommend that you simply leave these items at home or in your car.
CAN I BRING ANYONE WITH ME?
Yes, you can bring your spouse, partner, parent or other person of support. However, as seating is limited we recommend that you arrive early and only bring one other party with you. Please note that ALL adult visitors (even if they’re not filing for bankruptcy) must have approved photo identification to enter any federal courthouse.
WHAT ABOUT SECURITY SCREENINGS?
“Near the building entrance, or in Federal Buildings with multiple tenants near the entrance to the courtrooms, you will pass through a screening station. This station is staffed by Court Security Officers (CSOs). You can expect the CSOs to check the contents of your purse or briefcase by passing them through an X-ray machine. You can also expect to be required to walk through some form of metal detection equipment, [which means you’ll have to remove your keys, belt and any other metal on your person]. Should you have prohibited items on your person or in the items you brought with you, they will be identified in this screening process.” (Source: http://www.usmarshals.gov/judicial/visit_courthouse.htm on 7/19/13.) You may also be asked to remove your jacket and shoes, and place them on the conveyor belt.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT DURING THE HEARING?
You should plan to arrive 30 minutes early to ensure traffic and other delays do not cause you to miss your hearing. You will meet with the attorney approximately 15 minutes prior to your hearing time, and you should expect to be there for approximately 2 hours.
Before you speak on the official Court record, you will be sworn in, and your testimony is subject to the elements of perjury.
While the hearing is called the ‘§341 Meeting of Creditors,’ creditors are not required to attend, so most of them do not. Typically the creditors that are present at the hearing are mortgage and auto loan lenders who have a lien against your personal or real property. Any questions from creditors usually pertain to the location and condition of the collateral and whether or not their collateral is insured.
The Trustee, on the other hand, will mainly ask you questions for clarification and verification purposes. These are questions you already know the answer to so you don’t need to feel intimidated or nervous. Just answer all questions truthfully to the best of your knowledge, information and belief.
If you have any additional questions about what to bring or expect during a meeting of creditors, or if you wish to discuss your case with an experienced Stuart bankruptcy lawyer, contact Crary Buchanan today.