In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, each person filing (meaning both spouses, if you’ve filed together) must attend a mandatory meeting of creditors, held about a month after the initial filing date. Despite its name, creditors traditionally don’t appear at the meeting. The meeting typically amounts to a brief, but official interview by a chapter 7 trustee.
As your attorney, I will be there to personally represent you. (If you hire a large or national firm, then among other shortcomings, they’ll dispatch an unknown lawyer unfamiliar with your case.)
We prepare your bankruptcy paperwork with maximum care and attention to help ensure the meeting feels like a routine formality rather than any cause for stress.
Who is the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee?
Though we submit the bankruptcy petition to the bankruptcy court , it’s the case trustee (assigned at random from a panel) who examines it for completeness and accuracy. In chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee also determines if you have “too much” stuff, meaning property not fully protected by bankruptcy exemptions. If there is property that’s not exempt, the trustee may require it be turned over or surrendered.
To avoid any surprises, I make detailed advance determination as to whether your declared property values are fully protected. We ensure your interests are completely protected within the limits of the law.
As an an experienced local counsel, I can anticipate the trustee’s demands and streamline the process. You’ll be fully prepared, reassured and ready for your interview by the trustee at the meeting of creditors.
What Occurs at the Meeting of Creditors?
The person filing the case must testify under oath at the meeting that the statements, declarations and schedules that comprise the bankruptcy petition are true and correct.
Beyond certain rote questions by the trustee (like, “Did you review your paperwork with your attorney before you signed it? Did you list all of your property and all of your debts?”), specific queries can vary on a case-by-case basis. If you possess unique property or operate a business, certain clarification may be called for. Your bankruptcy attorney will prep you in advance for both standard and particular lines of inquiry.
The bankruptcy trustee will have also confirmed the information in your petition through advance reading of separately-delivered supporting documents (like pay stubs, tax returns and car loan statements). To ensure a quick and uneventful meeting of creditors, I make sure that evidentiary paperwork is all submitted in advance for trustee review. Often, other attorneys have their meetings “continued,” meaning delayed to a later date to supplement the record for failure to submit all requirements. I always go the extra mile to minimize the chances of any delay or setback.
The bankruptcy meeting of creditors doesn’t take long, but it can be intimidating if you don’t have a good bankruptcy attorney. Throughout your representation and at your trustee interview, I’m by your side to answer any and all legal matters.
There’s an inherent adversary component to bankruptcy. Yet, I inspire trust and respect from trustees and opposing counsel. My professional courtesy, diligence and reputation is a strong and positive reflection upon my clients.
The United States Trustee:
There’s another type of trustee, who may dispatch a representative to the chapter 7 bankruptcy creditors-meeting. The United States Trustee’s Office is a division of the Department of Justice; it’s the self-described watchdog, which monitors for bankruptcy fraud and abuse.
Bankruptcy fraud would include incurring debt by deceit, lying and concealing assets.
“Abuse” in chapter 7 bankruptcy is a term of art. It pertains to dismissing a case if a consumer has “too much” disposable income (meaning, the ability to pay their debts, either directly or through a chapter 13 bankruptcy).
The U.S. Trustee flags some matters for further inquiry. However, I anticipate such cases and prepare relevant arguments to support my clients’ petitions. For example, if it appears on paper that a client has too much disposable income, I’ll provide advance explanation to the United States Trustee so they can sign off on your case without filing an objection.
In bankruptcy, the Chapter 7 Trustee and U.S. Trustee ultimately promote the interests of creditors and… that’s okay. Because your bankruptcy attorney advocates his clients’ interests. Your San Diego bankruptcy lawyer champions the consumer or small-business person who’s suffered setbacks, burdensome debt and stress.
You are not alone.
This terrible virus has brought the world to its knees. But there’s a small silver lining in that the meeting of creditors are still being held either telephonically or by Zoom (depending on the individual trustee’s preference). So you needn’t leave home or your office to attend.