For some people, the worst part of bankruptcy is actually making the decision to file for it. But once that is done, you can heave a big sigh of relief—until you find out that you must also attend something called a "creditor's meeting." Being a bit disgruntled at this news is understandable; after all, who wants to meet with the people that you are including in your bankruptcy petition? Won't that be embarrassing? For those dumbfounded by this event, there's good news. The creditor's meeting is just a short, likely boring, meeting to make your bankruptcy legal. Knowing exactly what a creditor's meeting entails should help alleviate your remaining trepidation, so read on.
1. This meeting will take place a few months after your filing and normally happens in a federal building in your district. In some instances it occurs in an actual courtroom setting, but often it's just a large training or conference room in a federal building. Overseeing the meeting is your bankruptcy trustee, who is often a judge but may also be an attorney with bankruptcy experience. Plan to spend several hours, but only if your last name begins with "X" "Y" or "Z," since the names are called alphabetically. In a related note, you will be in the same room with many other chapter 7 filers at the same time, with each case called up one at a time.
2. It's called a creditor's meeting, but creditors seldom, if ever, actually attend. You can help guarantee that no creditors take an interest in your meeting by making sure that you follow the rules about not using your credit cards to charge luxury items or to take large cash advances too close to your filing date. Another reason a creditor might attend is to legally ensure that you are reaffirming a debt. A reaffirmation is a way to continue paying as agreed on an asset that you want to avoid surrendering. For example, you may want to continue to make car payments so that you can keep your car. This not only ensures that you will continue to have transportation, but it will be a plus mark on your credit report, which will surely take a hit from the bankruptcy filing.
3. Your time in the spotlight will be relatively brief, and your bankruptcy attorney will be by your side. You will normally stand or approach the trustees desk, where you will be sworn in and asked a number of questions, such as the following:
- Have you ever filed bankruptcy before?
- Did you read your bankruptcy petition and is this your signature?
- Have your filed your taxes for last year?
- Have you paid any of your creditors (or other people you owe money to) in the past few months?
Your bankruptcy attorney will be able to clue you in on the questions ahead of time so that you can be ready with your answers. On the subject of your attorney: they may have other clients present at the same meeting, so don't be surprised if they do not stay with you for the entire meeting.
This meeting will be over before you know it, and soon you will on your way to a better, brighter and hopefully better educated financial future.
For more information and details, talk with a bankruptcy attorney who can assist you in your case.