What Should I Say at the Meeting of Creditors in Bankruptcy Court?

Saturday , 5, October 2013 Comments Off on What Should I Say at the Meeting of Creditors in Bankruptcy Court?

Bankruptcy Lawyer in Lakewood NJ.

What Should I Say at the Meeting of Creditors in Bankruptcy Court?

The most stressful part of the bankruptcy process for consumers seems to be their appearance before the trustee assigned to their case. Every consumer debtor who files for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, will be examined by the trustee at a hearing called the meeting of creditors; Also commonly referred to as the section 341 hearing. The examination takes place at the bankruptcy court approximately 4 to 6 weeks after the bankruptcy petition is filed.
When filing in New Jersey your hearing will be at the Court it will be assigned by New Jersey Local Bankruptcy Rules. The debtor has a right to file a bankruptcy case in any of these vicinages however, the Court can transfer a case if it finds that the matter is more properly heard in another vicinage. Generally though, the assignment of a case is based on the county in which the debtor resides (if the debtor is an individual or married couple) or the address where a corporate debtor has its principal place of business in New Jersey. The Local Rules divide the assignment of cases as follows:

1. The Trenton vicinage consists of part of Burlington (except for the townships of Cinnaminson, Delran, Edgewater Park, Evesham (Marlton), Maple Shade, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Palmyra, Riverside and Riverton), Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset and Warren counties.

2. The Newark vicinage consists of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Union Counties.

3. The Camden vicinage consists of Atlantic, part of Burlington (the townships of Cinnaminson, Delran, Edgewater Park, Evesham (Marlton), Maple Shade, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Palmyra, Riverside and Riverton), Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties. Over the years, the Courts in the District have changed the assignment of cases by modifying the Local Rules.

The examination really does not differ if you are in Camden, Newark, or Trenton. And the examination does not necessarily take place at one of these courts; there are out of court locations where the examination are conducted. Generally the examination lasts just a matter of minutes and the trustee will question the debtor in the presence of their attorney.  The trustee will ask questions about the debtor’s assets and liabilities, and the reasons why the debtor sought bankruptcy relief.
A common question by our clients is:  How much should I talk, when I am asked a question by the Trustee?
The simple answer is:  As little as possible.

An abundance of the questions that the trustee will ask require a straight “yes” or “no” answer, and when asked one of these questions you should respond with:  “yes” or “no”.  Volunteering additional information outside of a “yes” or “no” response can only get you into trouble by opening the flood gates for the trustee to ask even more questions.

When trustee asks an open ended question that requires more than a “yes” or “no” response and  requires you to  explain something, you should do so accurately and honestly, but LISTEN to the question carefully and keep your answers as short and sweet as possible. Most of all keep it HONEST!
You will have an experienced bankruptcy attorney from Riviere Cresci & Singer LLC there with you, who will have  prepared you for the meeting of creditors and therefore you should not be surprised by the trustee’s questions, as your attorney will have already reviewed them with you. If you want to hear the questions the Trustee may ask you before your examination show up to your meeting of creditors and listen in to other debtors’ examinations. This may remove the fear of the unexpected and allow you a glimpse of what you can expect. Below are some examples of questions:

QUESTIONS THE TRUSTEE IS REQUIRED TO ASK YOU AT YOUR BANKRUPTCY HEARING (341(a) MEETING OF CREDITORS)

1. State your name and current address for the record.

2. Please provide your picture ID and Social Security number card for review.

3. Did you sign the petition, schedules, statements, and related documents and is the signature your own? Did you read the petition, schedules, statements, and related documents before you signed them?

4. 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 attention at this time?

5. Are all of your assets identified on the schedules? Have you listed all of your creditors on the schedules?

6. Have you previously filed bankruptcy? (provide trustee with case number and the discharge information to determine discharge eligibility in this case)

7. What is the address of your current employer?

8. Is the copy of the tax return you provided a true copy of the most recent tax return you filed?

9. Do you have a domestic support obligation? To whom? Please provide the claimant’s address and telephone number, but do not state it on the record. Are you current on your post-petition domestic support obligations?

10. Have you filed all required tax returns for the past four years?

 

SAMPLE QUESTIONS THE TRUSTEE MAY ASK YOU

1. Do you own or have any interest whatsoever in any real estate? If owned: 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 of 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 you receive in exchange? What did you do with the funds?

3. Does anyone hold property belonging to you? If yes: Who holds the property and what is it? What is its value?

4. Do you have a claim against anyone or any business? If there are large medical debts, are the medical bills from injury? Are you the plaintiff in any lawsuit? What is the status of each case and who is representing you?

5. Are you entitled to life insurance proceeds or an inheritance as a result of someone’s death? If yes: Please explain the details. If you become a beneficiary of any one’s estate within six months of the date your bankruptcy petition was filed, the trustee must be advised within ten days through your counsel of the nature and extent of the property you will receive. FRBP 1007(h).

6. Does anyone owe you money? If yes: Is the money collectible? Why haven’t you collected it? Who owes the money and where are they?

7. Have you made any large payments, over $600, to anyone in the past year?

8. Were federal income tax returns filed on a timely basis? When was the last return filed? Do you have copies of the federal income tax returns? At the time of the filing of your petition, were you entitled to a tax refund from the federal or state government ? If yes: Inquire as to amounts.

9. Do you have a bank account, either checking or savings? If yes: In what banks and what were the balances as of the date you filed your petition?

10. When you filed your petition, did you have: a. any cash on hand? b. any U.S. savings bonds? c. any other stocks or bonds? d. any certificates of deposit? e. a safe deposit box in your name or in anyone else’s name?

11. Do you own an automobile? If yes: What is the year, make, and value? Do you owe any money on it? Is it insured?

12. Are you the owner of any cash value life insurance policies? If yes: State the name of the company, face amount of the policy, cash surrender value, if any, and the beneficiaries.

13. Do you have any winning lottery tickets?

14. Do you anticipate that you might realize any property, cash or otherwise, as a result of a divorce or separation proceeding?

15. Have you been engaged in any business during the last six years? If yes: Where and when? What happened to the assets of the business?

The New Jersey personal bankruptcy attorneys at Riviere Cresci & Singer LLC can answer any questions you may have. If you live in New Jersey, including the towns of Ocean Township, Jackson,Neptune or Brick Township call us for a free consultation to find out how we can help you.