STEP FIVE - THE COURT HEARING

As soon as your case is filed, your case will be assigned to a trustee who will oversee your case. You will have to attend at least one court hearing, and at that hearing you will meet with your appointed trustee.

Prior to the court hearing I will send to the trustee documentation to help them review your case. These documents are required under a federal rule and are often referred to, using the federal code section number 521. Sometimes the assigned trustee will have requests for other documents beyond the 521 documents so that they can better understand your case. These are part of the documents that I require you to provide to me prior to signing your petition and schedules. I will serve these documents to your trustee on your behalf prior to the court hearing.

In about a week or two from the filing of the bankruptcy you will receive a notice for a court hearing, this hearing is often called the 341 Meeting of Creditors. You will have to attend this hearing. The court hearing is generally held anywhere from 20 to 45 days from the date of filing. You should set aside at least an hour for the hearing. The majority of the time is usually spent waiting to have your case heard. Your meeting with the Trustee will usually only take a few minutes.

Every debtor must attend a 341 Meeting of Creditors. This hearing is held at the federal court house in a special room. The hearings do not occur in a courtroom, but really more of a large conference room. Other debtors will be in attendance doing the exact same thing. There are generally about 12 to 15 cases heard each hour. Creditors usually do not appear at this hearing, however, they are invited to it and it is their opportunity to ask you questions pertaining to your Bankruptcy. If creditors are likely to appear or do appear at your hearing, I will review with you what to expect in your particular case. I will also be sitting next to you to help you through the process and prevent any unacceptable questions by the creditor. This is not a hearing for the creditors to berate you, it is merely a time for them to ask questions pertaining to your Bankruptcy.

You will need to bring to the hearing your original driver’s license and original social security card. If you forget either of these items, your hearing will be continued to another day. You should dress conservatively as if you were going to a meeting or an interview. Remember, you are going to the federal courthouse and meeting with the trustee who is reviewing through your case. Also remember that you will have to pass through security, so be aware of what items you are carrying on you as there are officers and scanners at the entrance.

Be aware that it can be sometimes difficult to find parking, or operate the parking pay machines, so arrive with plenty of time to find parking and with enough time to arrive at your hearing room prior to the time of your hearing. I recommend getting to the hearing room about 10-15 minutes early so that I can meet with you, review with you what to expect and answer any questions prior to the hearings beginning. If you are not there on time, your hearing may be continued to the next hour or to another day.

The trustee may ask other case specific questions, but they will always ask a set of general questions to each set of debtors. The hearings are recorded, and answers to any questions must be audible by the recorder. I will be sitting at the table with you when it is your turn to meet with the trustee, but generally all the questions will be directed at you, the debtor, and you will have to answer them to the best of your knowledge. Never guess at an answer to a question you do not know. Generally the questions will all be ones that you know the answer to. The trustee will first have you promise to tell the truth, and will verify your name and address. They will then go on to ask you, at a minimum, the common questions in every case.

Common questions in Chapter 7 cases are:

  • Did you read and sign the petition and schedules that were filed for you (everything we will have reviewed and signed in the signing meeting)
  • Was everything true and accurate when you filed your petition and schedules
  • Do you have any changes to make
  • Were all of the documents you provided to your attorney true and accurate copies
  • Did you include all of your assets no matter where they are located
  • Did you include everyone you owe money to, even if you intend to pay them
  • Does anyone owe you any money
  • Do you have the right to an inheritance, lotto winnings, own season tickets or prepaid airline tickets
  • Do you have the right to sue anyone
  • Have you given anything to any family members or friends in the prior to filing
  • Have you sold or transferred anything in the last 5 years
  • Have you paid any one creditor $500 or more in the 90 days before filing
  • Have you lived in California for the two years prior to filing
  • Do you owe child support/alimony
  • Have you been divorced in the last 5 years
  • Are you holding any property for anyone else, or is anyone holding property for you
  • Have you used any credit cards in the 90 days before filing

These questions can vary, and the trustee may ask you questions specific to your case. In Chapter 7 cases the trustee is often trying to determine whether you have any assets that can be sold to pay off creditors, or whether you are making enough to pay back creditors such that you do not qualify for a Chapter 7.

Common questions in Chapter 13 cases:

Chapter 13 341 Meeting of Creditors may involve some of the same questions above. However, the more common line of questioning is as follows:

  • Did you read and sign the petition and schedules that were filed for you (everything we will have reviewed and signed in the signing meeting)
  • Was everything true and accurate when you filed your petition and schedules
  • Do you have any changes to make
  • Were all of the documents you provided to your attorney true and accurate copies
  • The trustee will then review through your plan payment, and to whom the payment will be disbursed
  • The trustee will then verify that that is your understanding of the plan and remind you to make your plan payments

The trustee, or an attorney for the trustee, may also ask you questions that are specific to your case. Among other things, in Chapter 13 cases the trustee is focused on whether you can actually pay more into your Chapter 13 plan, whether you can afford your plan payment, whether your creditors are properly provided for in your Chapter 13 plan, if you qualify for a Chapter 13, and they will review through the Chapter 7 liquidation analysis of your case to determine whether creditors are receiving as much as they would in a Chapter 7 through your Chapter 13 plan.

In many cases the trustee will conclude the hearing at the first meeting of creditors.

However, your hearing could be continued to another day for a variety of reasons. Some common reasons are failing to bring the proper identification, failing to appear, or failing to appear on time.

Sometimes the trustee continues the hearing for additional documentation, or because they have additional questions. Unless informed otherwise, be prepared to appear at the continued hearing. If the hearing was continued because the trustee needed to look at additional documentation, sometimes the continued hearings are cancelled because they were only continued to give the trustee time to see if she would have additional questions. If your hearing is continued, be prepared to appear, and I will let you know if your hearing was concluded without needing your appearance.

For expected time frames after your hearing please continue on to step six, the closing of your case and getting a discharge.

Contact me today to discuss your case!

 

  1. Step One – The Consultation
  2. Step Two – Preparing to File
  3. Step Three – Filing the Bankruptcy
  4. Step Four – Preparing the Chapter 13 Plan
  5. Step Five - The Court Hearing
  6. Step Six – Closing Your Case and Getting a Discharge

 

 

This website does not, and is not intended to, provide a comprehensive guide to your Bankruptcy or Bankruptcy in general. Furthermore, nothing in this website provides any guarantees, warranties or predictions regarding the outcome of your legal matter. You should consult with an attorney to determine the effects of Bankruptcy in your case. Results are not always typical because each case is different. We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for Bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Code.

DISCLAIMERS