No matter which chapter of bankruptcy you file, you will have to attend a debtors exam with your assigned trustee (also known as your 341 Meeting of Creditors). This is a requirement of the bankruptcy code and will be under oath.
This meeting will usually take place about 4-6 weeks after you case is filed. You will not meet with your Judge and usually do not need to bring much, if any, paper work. At least a week prior to the meeting you should have given your trustee the required tax returns. A picture ID and proof of social security number is required at the meeting.
While a Chapter 13 examination is slightly more complicated and time consuming than a Chapter 7 exam, neither one lasts too long. An exam typically takes between 5-10 minutes, with some ranging even shorter or longer. It is also an opportunity for creditors to question the debtor, although in the typical case, creditors do not appear.
Some of the trustees questions are routine and given to all debtors, while others are specific as to your case. Among the typical questions debtors can expect to hear are:
- Did you read and sign your petition and schedules before signing them, and did you attorney review it with you? Are they true and correct?
- Is all of the information still true and correct or are there changes?
- Do you understand that while you are under Chapter 13 you cannot incur any new debt or buy or sell any property without permission of the Court?
- Do you have any claims against anyone or the right to sue anyone? Do you understand that while you are in bankruptcy, you must tell your attorney about any claims that you have against third parties, even if they arise after your case was filed?
- What caused you to file this case?
- Do you owe any taxes to the IRS or the State Department of Revenue?
- Do you participate in a 401(k) or other retirement program? If so, do you currently contribute to this program? Do you have any loans against the funds?
- Do you pay or receive child support? If you pay, is the creditors name, mailing, address, and phone number listed in your schedules? Have you made all of your support/alimony payments that have come due since this case was filed?
- Do you have any student loans? If so, what is their status (deferment, default, etc.)?
- Does anybody owe you money?
- Do you have any credit cards, either with you or at home?
- Are you expecting or entitled to an inheritance?
Questions that are specific to your case will focus on things like the following (note this list is hardly all inclusive):
- How did you arrive at the value of your house?
- Describe the value received for any transfers of property in the previous two years.
- How much money was garnished or setoff from your bank account in the 90 days previous to filing?
- Describe the nature of a particular asset you own that you cannot exempt
- Give the details of you any gift you gave in the past year exceeding $200.
At the conclusion of the meeting the trustee will give you a list of things that need to be corrected prior to confirmation if it is a chapter 13. If you are in a chapter 7, the trustee might ask you to supplement additional information or conclude the meeting.
No matter which chapter you are in, there will be additional things you must do after the hearing. Filing a financial management certificate, filing reaffirmation agreements and/or lien avoidance motions, or redeeming a car are just the bare minimum of things that might still need to be done.