What Happens at the Creditors’ Meeting in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
The creditors’ meeting is a required procedure in all Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. The idea of facing your creditors in person may seem intimidating, but in practice most of these meetings are quick and painless. In fact, even though it is called a creditors’ meeting and they have the right to appear and ask questions, they almost never do.
The creditors’ meeting is run by the bankruptcy trustee who has been assigned to your case. The bankruptcy judge does not attend. The meeting is usually held between 21 and 50 days after you file for Chapter 7. The exact date and time will be scheduled by the bankruptcy court. We encourage clients to arrive at the meeting location about 30 minutes early to give enough time to park and get through any building security.
Once you’ve entered the building, you will spend a few minutes with your attorney discussing any last-minute details. Then you will both go into the hearing room. Normally there will be a few other bankruptcy filers in the room, along with their lawyers. Everyone waits their turn. When it’s your turn, you and your attorney will go to the front of the room to sit with the trustee and any creditors who are present.
The trust will ask for your Social Security card and one other form of ID, such as a driver’s license, to verify your identity. You will then be placed under oath. Then, the trustee will ask you some basic questions about your petition, your assets and debts, overall financial condition and any other facts the trustee feels is important. They will ask you some questions designed to make sure you understand the ramifications of filing for bankruptcy.
Most of the questions in Chapter 7 creditors’ meetings revolve around the value of your property. Additionally, you’ll likely be asked questions such as:
- Are you sure you listed all your assets in your petition?
- Are all of your creditors listed?
- Have you ever filed bankruptcy in the past?
- Has your financial situation changed since you filed your petition?
Don’t be unduly stressed by these questions. You can ask your attorney sitting beside you in case you need clarification about a question. The entire meeting usually lasts less than 30 minutes. While it may be short, don’t be tempted to skip it. If you don’t show up, the trustee has the right to dismiss your case. One more thing to note about attendance: if you and your spouse are jointly filing for Chapter 7, both of you must attend the creditors’ meeting.
At the Law Offices of Michael Jay Berger, we have extensive experience representing debtors in southern California Chapter 7 cases. Our attorneys have attended thousands of creditors meetings, so you can trust us to prepare you and guide you through the process. Call our Beverly Hills office at 310-271-6223 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.