What is the Meeting of Creditors?
The bankruptcy meeting of creditors should not be a stressful event. The purpose of this hearing is to make sure that the papers that have been submitted to the court by your bankruptcy attorney are true and accurate.
What Should I Bring With Me?
Make sure you bring your social security card, drivers license and insurance information to court.
What Happens When I Get There?
The most stressful part of the hearing is getting into the building. Security is always tight. In Rome, you will most likely be able to get through the line in about 10 minutes. In Atlanta, it usually takes about 30 minutes. You will be asked to present picture identification, to take off your shoes and to remove your belt. Make sure you leave your cell phones and pocket knives in the car. During this hearing, your creditors have the right to come to the hearing and question you under oath. In reality, creditors almost never come to court. When they do, it is usually just to verify insurance information or find out the condition of whatever collateral secures the debt.
Review Your Bankruptcy Papers for Accuracy
Contrary to popular opinion, the bankruptcy meeting of creditors is not the most important part of your case. The most important part of your case is when you spend the time with your bankruptcy attorney to make sure that everything in your bankruptcy petition is true and accurate. If everything you have submitted to the bankruptcy court is true and accurate, what do you have to worry about?
Many clients will ask me, “Jeff, is the trustee going to yell at me?” The answer to this question is an emphatic no. Picture me right now shaking my head in a no no fashion. I have been practicing consumer bankruptcy for almost 15 years. I have never seen a trustee yell at a bankruptcy consumer in any of my cases. However, I have seen some trustees get angry with clients of other attorneys when the bankruptcy petition is grossly inaccurate.
When a bankruptcy petition is clearly not accurate, the trustee will usually ask, “How much time did you spend in your attorney’s office reviewing this petition that has been submitted to this court under oath?” The answer is usually ten minutes or less.
My staff and I spend at least two hours on average reviewing the petition so that my clients can confidently go to the meeting of creditors knowing that their petition is accurate.
If you ever meet with an attorney who says, “sign here, sign here, sign here” and then tries to shew you out of the office without giving you the opportunity to properly review everything, ask for your money back and run. Never sign a petition until you and your attorney have reviewed it together. Some large bankruptcy mills will have clients sign bankruptcy schedules in front a paralegal and then spend only five minutes with a bankruptcy attorney. This type of practice is a recipe for disaster.
In conclusion, make sure your bankruptcy petition is accurate! No one is going to be mean or try to trick you at your meeting of creditors. Relax, take a deep breath, and don’t freak out.