Will I have to go to Court?

Upon filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the entire process takes approximately 4 to 4 1/2 months.

Once the petition is filed, the court will send out a notice informing your creditors that you have filed bankruptcy and appointining a trustee.  This notice will also schedule a meeting of creditors, which is held approximately 30 days after you file. You are required to attend the meeting. These meetings are held on the hour between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  They are quite brief and last only about 5 to 10 minutes. There are about 8 to 10 cases per hour, so you generally will not be there more than an hour. 

As I previously stated, a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee is appointed to your case.  At least 7 days prior to your meeting of creditors, there are certain types of documentation that you are to submit to the trustee.  Such items include copies of your tax returns for the past two years and paystubs for the past 3 months or current income information.  At the meeting, the trustee will examine the information on the bankruptcy petition that you filed by asking you various questions.  The questions are rather routine, but include the following:

* Please show me your social security number

(you will need your original social security card or some other original type of document that shows your social security number)

* Please show me your picutre I.D.

* When signing this petition, did you review its contents and assure that all the information contained in the petition was true and correct.

* Are all of your assets identified in the schedules?

* Are all tax returns that are due been filed?

* Do you expect to receive anything of value within the next six months?

* Have you made a transfer of any real or personal property?

* Have you read the Bankruptcy Information Sheet?

* What was the reason for you filing bankruptcy?

These are just a few of the questions that might be asked.  The examination is similar to the information that was gathered to prepare your bankruptcy petition, but it is simply not as detailed.  I will be there with you to assist you in answering any questions. 

The trustee is normally the only person to question you during the meeting.  However, any one of your creditors are free to show up and examine you.  This rarely occurs.  If anyone  shows, it is usually some "mom and pop" that you have been renting off of or some similar situation.  All they can do is ask you some questions.  In order for them to do anything some action has to be filed in court.  This is seldom done, so it is not likely that you will be required to appear in court.  

Upon the conclusion of the meeting of creditors, the trustee can either close out the meeting or continue it to another date.  Most of the time the meetings are closed out and no further proceedings are required.  On occasion, the trustee may continue the meeting to another date to allow you sufficient time to provide addtional doumentation.  As long as this documetation is produced prior to the meeting, then it will not be necessary for you to attend.

The scheduling and the rules regarding the meeting of creditors are about the same for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.  These meeting are also on the hour and may last 10 to 15 minutes.  Unlike Chapter 7, these meeting are usually held in a closed room, with just you and your attorney present.  On occasion, a representative from your mortgage company, car lender or taxing authority may also be present.  The Trustee will examine you to determine whether the Chapter 13 Plan that you have proposed is feasible and you have the ability to make plan payments and whether there are any grounds to obect to the plan.  Upon the conclusion of the meeting, the trustee will normally enter an interim distribution order, so that your creditors can start getting paid.  A date for a conciliation is provided that may be 4 months later.  It is not necessary for you to attend this conciliation.  At this meeting, your attorney will normally get your Chapter 13 Plan confirmed on a final basis.