What To Expect When You Meet With A Bankruptcy Trustee
Before You Arrive
Arriving prepared to your meeting with the Bankruptcy Trustee is one of the most important aspects of this meeting. One of the simplest things that can often be overlooked is the importance of being properly dressed for the occasion. When appearing before the Trustee you need to look well groomed and ready for business. No one is expecting that you go out a buy a new suit for the occasion, but a nice pair of pants/skirt and a dress shirt/blouse can go a long way. Also, never wear dirty clothes or shorts. This conveys an impression that you don’t really care about the significance of the meeting and reflects poorly not only on you but also on your attorney.Another good rule of thumb is to arrive early. Generally speaking, planning to arrive at the meeting 30 minutes ahead of time will allow you any extra time needed to find parking, navigate traffic or any other obstacle which might delay your meeting. You will also have time to review your documents with Mr. Benson before appearing before the bankruptcy Trustee.Finally, the most important thing to remember is to come with a driver’s license/state ID and your social security card in order to properly identify yourself. If you fail to bring these forms of identification, your meeting will be adjourned to a later date and you’ll have to set aside another time (of the Trustee’s choosing) to have your meeting of creditors. It is also important to bring any paperwork listed in your meeting letter in order to respond to any requests the Trustee might have.
During The Meeting
Despite all of this preparation, the meeting with the Trustee is usually a rather brief affair. It will begin with you being sworn in and some brief remarks by the Trustee. Your social security card and driver’s license/state ID will verify your identity and the Trustee will embark upon a series of brief yes or no questions. The questions will generally cover whether or not you listed all of your assets and liabilities and if you have understood all of the information within your petition for bankruptcy. There may also be a few questions regarding your fee agreement with your attorney and if you have previously filed bankruptcy. It is important that you keep the answers to these questions to a brief yes or no. The Trustee is not looking for any long-winded explanation of each event, and long answers will likely disrupt the Trustee’s packed schedule of meetings.
It is also possible that some of your creditors may attend this meeting, and they do have the right to question you on certain topics. However, this is extremely unlikely as most creditors have nothing to gain from attending the meeting and would normally ask the same questions that a Trustee would.
After all of this is done, the Trustee may ask you to provide additional documents that he/she feels is necessary to confirm what has been stated in your petition and schedules. It will be your responsibility to produce these for the Trustee and your attorney as soon as possible. But when all of this is said and done, your meeting with the trustee will usually be through in about 10 minutes and you can proceed with your fresh start in life.
Questions a Trustee is required to ask:
- State your name and current address for the record.
- Please provide your picture ID and Social Security number card for review.
- 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?
- 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?
- Are all of your assets identified on the schedules? Have you listed all of your creditors on the schedules?
- Have you previously filed bankruptcy? (provide trustee with case number and the discharge information to determine discharge eligibility in this case)
- What is the address of your current employer?
- Is the copy of the tax return you provided a true copy of the most recent tax return you filed?
- 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?
- Have you filed all required tax returns for the past four years?
Questions a Trustee may ask:
- 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 ofthe 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?
- 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?
- Does anyone hold property belonging to you? If yes: Who holds the property and what is it? What is its value?
- 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?
- Are you entitled to life insurance proceeds or an inheritance as a result of someone’s death? If yes: PIease explain the detaiI s. 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)
- 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?
- Have you made any large payments, over $600, to anyone in the past year?
- Were federal income tax returns filed on a timely basis? When was the last return filed? Do you have copies ofthe 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.
- 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?
- When you filed your petition, did you have:
- any cash on hand?
- any U.S. savings bonds?
- any other stocks or bonds?
- any certificates of deposit?
- a safe deposit box in your name or in anyone else’s name?
- Do you own an automobile? If yes: What is the year, make, and value? Do you owe any money on it? Is it insured?
- Are you the owner of any cash value life insurance policies? If yes: State the name ofthe company, face amount of the policy, cash surrender value, if any, and the beneficiaries.
- Do you have any winning lottery tickets?
- Do you anticipate that you might realize any property, cash or otherwise, as a result of a divorce or separation proceeding?
- 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?