After you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will have a few weeks before the meeting of creditors (341 hearing). Although it is not at all like cramming for a school exam, there are some things that you need to do to prepare for your meeting with the bankruptcy trustee. If you do the following, you will make it easier for your bankruptcy attorney to represent you and help prevent any delays in your case.
Know what to expect It is important to know at least generally what to expect at the meeting of creditors. In preparing for this hearing, you should review the questions the bankruptcy trustee may ask you. If there are any questions that you are uncertain about, be sure to discuss them with your bankruptcy lawyer. Check out the related links below for my previous posts on these subjects.
Provide updated documents to your attorney. Make sure you have provided updated documents to your attorney in time to provide them to the trustee before the hearing. At least ten days before the meeting of creditors, you should supply your bankruptcy attorney with copies of all of the following documents that you have received since you last provided documents to your attorney:
- Pay stubs or other proof of income;
- Statements for all bank and other financial accounts, including statements showing the date that your bankruptcy was filed. Financial accounts include, but are not limit to, savings, checking, credit union, CDs, stock accounts, and 401(k), pension, thrift savings and other retirement accounts.
- Statements showing the cash value of any life insurance policies at the time of filing;
- Current declaration page or insurance card for home and auto insurance, if the policies or coverage dates have changed since you last provided these items to your attorney; and
- Statements showing your mortgage and vehicle loan balance at the time of filing. If there is a problem obtaining these items, your attorney will be able to assist you.
Review your bankruptcy schedules and related documents. Review your bankruptcy petition, schedules, statement of financial affairs, and related documents thoroughly before the meeting date. In a Chapter 13 case, be certain to review your Chapter 13 plan as well. Going back over your documents is probably the most important thing you can do to prepare for the meeting. Not only will it give you the opportunity to find and correct any mistakes or omissions, it will make it much easier to answer the trustee’s questions. If you do notice anything that should be changed, be sure to let your bankruptcy lawyer know.
Make sure you have your ID with you. You must show the bankruptcy trustee a photo ID issued by the government (such as a driver’s license, military ID card, or passport) and proof of your Social Security number (typically your Social Security card, but other items such as an original W2 may be acceptable). I advise my clients to place these items in their wallets and double check on the day of the meeting to be sure that they have them. If you do not have your ID and Social Security card at the meeting, the trustee will at the least reschedule your hearing, which will cause a delay in your discharge.
Be sure you know where to go and how to get there. The location of your meeting of creditors will be listed on the Notice of Meeting of Creditors. The following addresses are the usual locations for 341 meetings. However, on occasion, meetings are led in other locations because of scheduling conflicts. Therefore, you must read your notice carefully.
Chapter 7 Cases: Here are the primary locations for Chapter 7 meetings of creditors in my practice area within the Eastern District of Pennsylvania:
Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Delaware County, and most Bucks County cases:
Office of the U.S. Trustee
Meeting Room, Suite 501
833 Chestnut Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Bucks County Langhorne cases (for most other Bucks county cases, see above):
Middletown Municipal Center
3 Municipal Way, Public Hall
Langhorne, PA 19047
Chester County cases:
Chester County Government Services Center
601 Westtown Road
West Chester, PA 19380
Chapter 13 cases: The location for Chapter 13 creditor meetings for Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Bucks County cases, is as follows:
Office of the Chapter 13 Trustee,
1234 Market Street (Septa Building)
Suite 18-341Philadelphia, PA 19107
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Dress neatly. You do not need to wear a suit or tie, but you should dress neatly. What you would wear to work or to visit someone in an office is fine.
Make arrangements for minor children. It is very important that you make babysitting arrangements for any children. The meeting of creditors is not set up to accommodate children. I should also mention pets. OK, I am half joking, but I once had a client bring a small dog to a creditors’ meeting under his coat.
Get there early. Be sure to double check the date, time, and location on the Notice of Meeting of Creditors. If there has been a change in the schedule, your attorney should inform you. It is very important to get to the location early. (I tell my clients in my Philadelphia bankruptcy practice to be there at least at least thirty minutes before the scheduled starting time.) Your attorney will need time to meet with you before your case is called. If you are late to the meeting, you will disrupt the schedule and your case will be pushed back to the end or even rescheduled.
Give your attorney your cell phone number. If for some reason your attorney does not have your current cell phone number, make sure he or she has it before the meeting of creditors. I always make sure my clients can reach me directly on the day of the meeting of creditors.
If you are unsure about what you need to do to prepare for the meeting of creditors, be sure to ask your bankruptcy lawyer. When it comes to this important bankruptcy hearing, it is best not to wait to the last minute.