The Trustee’s Meeting in Bankruptcy
This page describes what usually occurs at the required Trustee’s Meetings in Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. This meeting is also known as the “Meeting of Creditors” or “341(a) meeting“.
This information may be specific to those cases filed in the Central District of California (Los Angeles and surrounding counties).
Unless there is a hotly contested personal debt, creditors usually do NOT show up to these meetings, despite the label “creditor’s meeting”. They are allowed to show up, of course, and can ask limited questions of the debtor, but most creditors opt for a more formal and extensive deposition (known as a 2004 examination) if they need to get additional information.
Chapter 7 Cases:
The purpose of this meeting is to allow the Trustee in a case to examine the debtor regarding information contained in the bankruptcy petition and schedules. Primarily, the purpose is to ensure that the debtors are who they say they are, and that they read, understood, and signed the papers under penalty of perjury.
If your attorney has done a good job with the initial bankruptcy petition and paperwork, your examination by the Trustee should not last more than a couple of minutes, unless you have extensive assets or other issues in your case.
Here’s what usually happens in my Los Angeles based cases:
You enter a room filled with about 25-50 other debtors for each hour’s calendar. The Trustee will call your name in whatever order he is going (usually alphabetical, but not always). You must provide an ORIGINAL copy of your drivers license and social security card, or alternate original forms showing the same information to prove your identity. You will get sworn in and asked most or all of the following:
- What is your name and address?
- Did you read and sign the bankruptcy papers?
- Did you list all your assets and all your debts?
- Did you omit anything from your papers?
- How did you arrive at the value of your home (or other assets which the Trustee is interested in)?
- Have you transferred any assets to anyone in the last 4 years?
- There are of course many other questions the trustee can ask, but in most cases, that’s about it! If you have an interest in a business, that will generate other questions, and if you have a lot of transfers of assets in the past, that will generate questions.
After the meeting, if the Trustee doesn’t decide to pursue any of your assets (see information on asset exemptions), he/she will file their “no-asset report” and then all you have to do is wait for your discharge usually.
Chapter 13 Cases:
Is essentially the same as the Chapter 7 examination above, except much more involved. The Trustee in a Chapter 13 will analyze all your income documents and expenses and also discuss what led you to need to file the bankruptcy case. This usually takes 30-60 minutes per case. You must also provide proof of having made any post petition mortgage payments, and bring your first plan payment(s) that have come due since the case was filed.
Chapter 11 Cases:
This is a bit more involved than in Chapter 13 and the Trustee attorney will go through a more detailed examination of the bankruptcy petition and schedules, depending on the complexity of the case.