Court Appearances: Do I Have to Go To Court?

by Paul R. Tom Basic Bankruptcy Information, News, Updates, Law Changes

Everyone who files for bankruptcy has to attend a brief, informal meeting held in a hearing room, called the Meeting of Creditors. More information on this meeting is below. Before the meeting takes place, we will have told you all standard questions asked by the trustee. Our Attorney will attend this meeting with you. Meetings are run by the bankruptcy trustee and are brief, usually lasting only five minutes or less.

Creditors may attend the hearing and ask questions, but they rarely do. In a Chapter 13, there will be other hearings in front of a bankruptcy judge, but these are handled by our attorney and you usually do not have to attend.

You MUST be at the Meeting of Creditors. If both you and your spouse file jointly, both of you must attend the hearing. The Trustee cannot excuse one of the debtors from being present, even if the creditors have no objection.

At a minimum, you must bring the following to the Meeting of Creditors:

(1) Picture ID (such as a Driver’s License or Passport);

(2) Your Social Security Card (or W-2 or 1099 form);

Certain trustees require additional documents. If this applies to your case, we or your trustee will send you a letter telling you what else you need to bring. Meanwhile, don’t worry about your hearing – we’ll be there with you. When you go to your First Meeting of Creditors, your trustee will ask you several basic questions under oath. Here are the usual questions asked by trustees at these meetings:

  • State your name, social security number, and current address for the record.
  • Have you read the Bankruptcy Information Sheet provided by the United States Trustee?
  • Did you read the petition, schedules, statements, and related documents before you signed them?
  • Did you sign the petition, schedules, statements, and related documents?
  • Are you personally familiar with the information contained in the petition, schedules, statements, and related documents?
  • To the best of your knowledge, is the information contained in the petition, schedules, statements, and related documents true and correct?
  • Are there any errors or omissions to bring to my, or the Court’s attention at this time?
  • Are all of your assets identified on the schedules?
  • Have you listed all of your creditors on the schedules?
  • Have you filed bankruptcy before? (If so, the trustee will ask you when and where, to make sure you are eligible for another discharge).

SOME OTHER GENERAL QUESTIONS  (Often asked when deemed appropriate by the trustee.)

  1. Do you own or have any interest whatsoever in any real estate?
    If own: When did you purchase the property? How much did the property cost? What are the mortgages encumbering it? What do you estimate the present value of the property to be? Is that the whole value or your share? How did you arrive at that value?
    If renting: Have you ever owned the property in which you live and/or is its owner in any way related to you?
  2. Have you made any transfers to any property or given any property away within the last one year period (or such longer period as applicable under state law)?
    If yes: What did you transfer? To whom was it transferred? What did your receive in exchange? What did you do with the funds?

Depending upon the facts in your case, the trustee may ask you additional questions. If we believe this will be likely, we’ll work with you and help you anticipate those questions and answer them honestly.