Meeting of Creditors in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
What is the Meeting of Creditors?
Okay, creditors nearly never attend the meeting of creditors. But it’s okay if they do, ’cause your San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney will be there too. [Unless, of course, you hired a bloated bankruptcy law racket that dispatches SOME attorney to the meeting; Yours Truly personally sees you through the complete bankruptcy process.]
With über-rare exception, the meeting of “creditors” is simply a speedy interview by a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee. Our bankruptcy papers are done right: most often, the meeting of creditors amounts to a routine formality.
Before getting to the gist of the meeting of creditors, let’s describe the presiding trustee:
Who is the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee?
In San Diego, there’s a panel of eight Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustees, each with unique demands and tastes. Forrest Gump would suggest trustee assignment–like a box of chocolates–means you never know what you’re gonna get. Of course, Forrest had it wrong: we posses that little “decoder ring” (as my wife dubs the illustrated truffle guide on your chocolate box); we know what the bankruptcy chocolate-box holds. You’ll be fully prepared, reassured and ready for your bankruptcy meeting of creditors.
What Does the Bankruptcy Trustee Do?
Though we submit the bankruptcy petition to the bankruptcy court, it’s the bankruptcy case trustee who examines it for completeness and accuracy. In chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee assesses if you have “too much” stuff; i.e. assets not adequately covered by bankruptcy exemptions.
Lucky (for us), there’s very seldom “too much.” Your bankruptcy lawyer advises in advance if excess property is an issue. We ensure your assets are exempted within the limits of the law.
What Occurs at the Meeting of Creditors?
The bankruptcy trustee’s interview is brief, but it’s formal. Per Bankruptcy Code requirement, the petitioner’s tasked with testifying under oath that the bankruptcy-court-docketed documents are true and correct. The bankruptcy trustee confirms that data conveyed in the petition aligns with separately-delivered supporting documents. To ensure a brisk and uneventful meeting of creditors, we ensure that relevant evidentiary docs have been submitted in advance for trustee review.
Beyond certain rote questions, 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 preps you in advance in anticipation of both standard and particular lines of inquiry.
Keepin’ Cool. Like Fonzie.
The bankruptcy meeting of creditors doesn’t take long; but it can be intimidating if you’re not properly represented by counsel. Luckily, your San Diego bankruptcy attorney is by your side to answer any and all legal matters.
There’s an inherent adversary component to bankruptcy. Yet, Yours Truly inspires trust and respect from trustees and opposing counsel. My professional courtesy, diligence and reputation is a strong and positive reflection upon you.
A different, poor choice in counsel (the blowhard, the corner-cutter) reflects poorly upon the bankruptcy debtor herself. Or, at the least, deficient selection of counsel signifies poor taste.
The United States Trustee:
There’s another type of trustee, who may dispatch a rep 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 cause for dismissal due to a debtor’s abundance of disposable income.
Pursuant to certain screening standards, the U.S. Trustee flags for further inquiry cases calling for added attention. In such a matter, a U.S. Trustee analyst may come to the creditors-meeting table. But your San Diego bankruptcy attorney keeps his eye (heck, both eyes) on the bankruptcy ball and foresees any red flags. Bankruptcy is a minefield; yet, we employ the “sweeper” of experience in over seven hundred San Diego cases. We promptly answer and satisfy the rare matter of concern to the U.S. Trustee.
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 unease.
You are not alone.
Vis-à-vis the creditors meeting, clients sometime seek counsel on standards of dress for the occasion.
The First Rule of creditors-meeting clothing is: do not strive for sartorial elegance by way of post-petition shopping-sprees. The Second Rule is to acknowledge that this is San Diego: we have no dress standards. It’s sufficient that your garb is freshly-laundered: go no further.
The Third Rule of what to wear there is: don’t out-dress yours truly. Your bankruptcy attorney is compelled by the California Rules of Professional Conduct (Rule 5-330) to put on his attorney costume (ninety-nine-degree weather notwithstanding): understated off-the-rack suit and tie. Thus, do not out-do me with Armani, please.
The Fourth and Final Rule of Meeting of Creditors Garb (relevant to our younger clientele scheduled for early morning meetings) is: carry an extra set of threads if you anticipate coming there straight from a hard day’s night.
But seriously: business-casual is fine.