Preparing for Trustee Meeting
If you are a debtor in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the trustee meeting is an essential part of the process and vital to the success of your case. This meeting is sometimes referred to as the "341 meeting" or "meeting of creditors." It is important to know what to expect and be prepared.
What is a Trustee MeetingThis is a meeting that is required by the bankruptcy code (Section 341). During this meeting the trustee will ask the debtor (you) a number of questions under oath. The meeting will be electronically recorded.
All your creditors are notified of the time and place of the meeting however their attendance is not mandatory. In fact, creditors rarely attend these meetings.
To start, the trustee will ask to see your photo ID (government issued) and social security card (original). They will then ask you to confirm that you signed the bankruptcy petition (you will identify your signature) and that you are personally familiar with the information contained in the petition.
It is important that you are honest and take every measure to make sure the information you provide is truthful, complete and accurate.
Supporting Documents and PreparationPrior to the Trustee meeting, you/your attorney will need to supply the Trustee with supporting documents. These documents include:
---- Two years of your tax returns (most recent)
---- Six months of pay stubs (including spouses')
---- 90 days of bank statements (from all accounts)
---- Real Estate valuations
---- Vehicle valuations
---- Investment accounts, retirement plans, life insurance policies (whole or universal)
---- Your credit Report
Each case if different and there may need to be supplemental documentation. For example, if you are the plaintiff in a personal injury (PI) lawsuit (or have a claim). The trustee will likely request a letter from your PI attorney estimating the value of your claim.
It is important to provide all these documents to your attorney well in advance of your meeting. The last thing you want are surprises.
If additional documentation is needed, or if there should be minor corrections to your bankruptcy petition, the trustee will usually continue the meeting so the documents can be provided/amended.
Prior to the meeting you and your attorney should take time to review each section of your petition. If you discover any inaccuracies, this is something that should be addressed at the meeting right away. Also, be sure to ask your attorney any questions. It is important that you are well informed about the process and the specifics of your case.
Your AssetsEarly in the meeting, you will be asked about your assets, specifically real estate. You will likely be asked how you determined the value of the real estate, when you purchased it and if when you obtained your mortgage (if applicable). It is important that all your assets are listed as you will be asked to confirm that the list contained in the petition (schedules A &B) is complete and accurate.
CreditorsYou will also be asked about your creditors, specifically if all your creditors have been listed (schedules D, E & F). Usually, this information can be extracted from your credit report, but it is also important to review this list thoroughly and add any creditors accordingly. Complications may arise if creditors are omitted.
Income and ExpensesNext is your income. You will confirm that the information pertaining to your income and expenses (scheduled I &J) is true and correct. You should understand that if you are married (not separated) your income includes your spouse, even if they did not file with you.
Statement of Financial AffairsNext, the trustee will examine the Statement of Financial Affairs (SoFA), which contains specific questions relating to your financial affairs prior to filing. For example, the trustee will ask if you have transferred or sold any property within the last four years. Also, the trustee will want to know if you have any claims (e.g. personal injury) that are pending, from which you may receive money damages. It is important to note that even if you have not filed a civil complaint, you may still have a claim.
Concluding the MeetingThe trustee will also ask if you are entitled to receive any property (inheritances) from any friend or family who has recently passed Finally, the trustee will remind you that, should you receive any inheritance or insurance proceeds within 180 days from the filing, you should not spend that money and alert the trustee immediately.