One of the more intimidating tasks that comes along with filing for a bankruptcy chapter is having a meeting with your creditors. A bankruptcy trustee is assigned to your case, who will help you through the process and get you prepared for the meeting to come. Under Chapter 13, not all of your debts will be discharged, meaning you will have to organize the rest into a repayment plan. Your bankruptcy trustee can decide which creditors will get paid back before others, depending on their ranking in priority.
What to Bring
The meeting with your creditors is going to be a very important part of your bankruptcy filing. It is likely difficult to reschedule, so you will need to be prepared with the documents you need. Your bankruptcy trustee can help you gather these documents in addition to getting you mentally ready for the meeting. Chances are, you are very nervous and may even need a pep talk before walking into the room. Here are common documents that are usually needed during a bankruptcy creditor meeting:
- Photo ID
- Bankruptcy paperwork
- Proof of earnings/income
- Social security card (if you do not have a card, then you will have to show evidence that you have a social security number. If you don’t have a number, then you must provide a valid statement)
- Bank account statements
- Other information required by your local court
- Documents related to the means test
The Role of Your Bankruptcy Trustee
While it may feel like it at times, your bankruptcy trustee is not actually out to get you. It is their job to see that creditors get paid as much as you can possibly afford. If you are not cooperative and forth-coming with your bankruptcy trustee, they may have reason to halt your case. Your bankruptcy will be in charge of facilitating you meeting with creditors.
At the beginning of the meeting, despite not being in a courtroom, you will be sworn in and are under oath. Your bankruptcy trustee will ask you a list of questions to find out if any assets or property on your bankruptcy paperwork had been left out, and that your income has been reported correctly. Examples of questions you may be asked include:
- If you currently own any real estate or rent property
- If you own a vehicle and other personal property
- If there are any funds aside from your earnings that you may be receiving soon, such as an inheritance, lawsuit, life insurance, money from a divorce, lottery, etc.
- If you had sold/given property or money to anyone in the last 12 months (if the trustee feels that you did this to avoid paying creditors, the transaction can be undone and distributed to creditors instead)
- Whether you have run a business within the last six years
- What your income level is and employment
- Your plans for handling secured debts
To many debtor’s relief, sometimes creditors don’t show up to this meeting, even though the meeting was called for their involvement. If creditors do attend, it is often to request clarification for how you plan to pay back a debt (such as giving back a vehicle on loan, continuing the loan after bankruptcy, or paying the creditor the replacement value).