In all bankruptcy cases, you will be required to appear at which is commonly known as a “Creditors’ Meeting”. For our clients, this is inevitably the biggest source of stress. But, like all of our clients, with the assistance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney, the Creditors’ Meeting is a simple step in obtaining your financial fresh start in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, or in reorganization in both Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and Chapter 11 Bankruptcy cases.
The Creditors’ Meeting is actually called a “First Meeting of Creditors” and controlled by 11 U.S.C. §341 of the Bankruptcy Code. Within a couple days of the filing of your Bankruptcy Petition, the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court will send a notice to you and all creditors for the date and time of the Creditors’ Meeting.
At a Creditors’ Meeting, you will be called to testify. The first thing that the Trustee must do is verify your identity by providing a government-issued photo identification – drivers license, passport, etc. – and proof of your social security number. The bankruptcy trustee will accept your current social security card but also will commonly accept a recent W-2, 1099 form, or other document that (1) was not prepared by the debtor and (2) contains the full social security number.
Next, the Trustee will ask you to swear or affirm that you will testify truthfully in the same way you would if you were testifying in a court. For our clients, they know that this is not a concern. Bankruptcy is one type of legal case where, as the saying goes, “the truth shall set you free”.
The meeting itself is quite simple though nearly all of our clients worry, stress, and even panic, about what is going to happen at the Meeting. If you honestly don’t know an answer to a question, the correct answer is, surprisingly, “I don’t know”. We try to alleviate the stress by providing a list of the common questions that are asked at a creditors meeting and also assuring our clients that a lawyer with our firm will be there by their side.
The simple answer is that the questions are either about your bankruptcy petition or about your financial circumstances. We help our clients by first preparing them before the meeting and then by providing a list of common questions to review.
Not true. In most cases, no creditors ever appear. While creditors are entitled to attend and “invited” through the same notice you receive, in our experience over the last 25 years, it is extremely rare for creditors to appear. See below for a more.
Well, don’t worry. Under the Bankruptcy Code, the Judge cannot appear at the Meeting of Creditors.
In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy cases, the Creditors Meeting is conducted at the federal courthouse where the case was filed. In New Jersey Chapter 13 Bankruptcy cases, each trustee conducts the meeting at an office building and not within the courthouse.
While many of the general requirements of a bankruptcy creditors meeting are the same in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy case, there are often very important questions.
Here you can find some answers to common questions:
The short answer is NO, they will not. In the vast majority of cases, the creditors meeting is only attended by you, your attorney, and the bankruptcy trustee. When we say “vast majority”, in more than 99% of our cases over the last five (5) years, no creditor has appeared.
Creditors are provided the same notice of the creditors meeting which you receive. Creditors have the “right” to appear and ask limited questions you about your financial condition and the debt that you owe to them.
As experienced bankruptcy attorneys who have represented peoples and businesses for decades, we have of course had situations where a creditor did appear. In most of these cases, we expected the creditors to appear due to litigation before or during the bankruptcy case. These are often complicated bankruptcy cases where our clients were fully prepared for the creditors’ appearance.
The bottom line is that most of your creditors are large banks, credit card companies, utility companies or medical doctors/hospitals who are noticed with bankruptcy filings thousands of times. They know it is not sensible to appear at a bankruptcy creditors meeting or to pay a lawyer to appear on their behalf. Banks or credit card companies charging interest have included the expected losses from bankruptcy in both their interest rates and their financial calculations. Call us now to learn more.
The information provided here, as with all information on our website, is not intended to provide legal advice to anyone considering bankruptcy. If you are experiencing serious debt problems or discussing these problems with a friend or family member, the easiest way to learn how the bankruptcy laws may protect you is to arrange a Free Case Review with an experienced New Jersey Bankruptcy Lawyer. Learn about your rights and options before you make a decision from attorneys who have helped families and businesses for over 30 years. We know that making that first call is often the hardest step but once made, you can often find relief and a fresh start for your financial future.