While it can be humiliating and humbling to admit that your financial situation has gotten out of control, it may be necessary for you to face the facts and take action. Failure to declare bankruptcy in a timely manner could put you at risk for losing property, harassment by creditors, and costly court judgments.
The bankruptcy process requires that you make but one public appearance in connection to your chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, known as the creditor's meeting. Read on to find out about this meeting and know that it is certainly no occasion to be either humiliated or humbled.
The timing: Once you have completed your bankruptcy paperwork and filed with the federal court, the notice of the creditor's meeting will not be far behind. Depending on the court caseload in your federal district, it can come a few months or so after your filing and you will be given notice of it via letter.
The letter will provide you with important information about your appearance and will come from your bankruptcy trustee, who oversees your case and works for the bankruptcy courts. The trustee may also preside at your meeting. Expect the letter to have details to note such as:
1. The location, time, and date.
2. Parking instructions. These meetings are held in federal courtrooms or buildings in a city center, so parking may be an issue. Be sure you leave plenty of time to park, go through security, and locate the exact room in the federal building.
3. What to bring. In most cases, you will need to bring a copy of your bankruptcy filing paperwork, a government-issued photo identification card or passport, and your Social Security card. Try to leave children at home.
The meeting: You may be given a time to appear, but there will be more people there with the same time as you. The time should be considered more of a time-range than an exact time, but you still must get there before the proceedings begin or you risk being locked out of the room. Here is what to expect at the meeting:
1. You will be called to stand (in most cases, you will stay at your seat and just stand) and be sworn to tell the truth.
2. Names are usually called in alphabetical order by last name.
3. You will be asked a few questions (often just three to five but it can vary).
4. You will be asked if you have filed and paid your most recent tax year taxes, if you have read and understood your bankruptcy paperwork, and if you have filed for a chapter 7 in the past.
5. You may then be seated and--if others have done the same--you may be able to leave.
6. Your bankruptcy attorney will be present to assist you should the need arise, but this appearance is usually over without any issues in a matter of less than five minutes.
Every district has their own practices, so speak to your bankruptcy attorney for more information about your creditor's meeting.