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The law requires that you attend a meeting of creditors. The purpose of the meeting of creditors is to give your creditors and the trustee an opportunity to ask you relevant questions concerning the reasons you filed the bankruptcy and what your intentions are concerning secured creditors. Secured creditors are those creditors you either borrowed money from to purchase things such as a home, a car or truck, furniture, household appliances, computer, etc., or you borrowed money and gave the creditor a security interest in items you owned prior to borrowing the money. Generally the answers to the questions asked are contained in your petition and schedules; therefore, you should be familiar with the information contained in the petition and schedules. You are encouraged to review the petition and schedules before attending the meeting. Additionally, you should bring your copy of the petition and schedules along with any other documents you received from this office, the court or any of the creditors to the meeting of creditors. I recommend you keep all the documents related to your bankruptcy in a large envelope in a safe place for at least seven years.
It is important you show up at the meeting of creditors on time. You should allow yourself twice the amount of time than it would normally take you to travel to the courthouse where your meeting is to be held. If it normally takes you one hour travel time, allow two hours. You must bring with you a photo ID issued by a governmental unit and proof of your Social Security number. A Driver's license, passports, ID cards issued by the state, military ID card, governmental employee ID card, etc., are examples of acceptable photo IDs. A Social Security card, a letter from the Social Security administration containing your Social Security number, or a letter from the IRS containing your Social Security number are examples of acceptable proof of your Social Security number. Remember, the photo ID containing your Social Security number will not be accepted as proof of Social Security number. You must provide a separate document to show your Social Security number.
The creditor's representatives and trustee are permitted to ask reasonable questions about your bankruptcy and what caused you to file. They will not be permitted to abuse you or be rude to you. Usually the questions they ask are answered in your petition or schedules. However, secured creditors often want to know if you wish to reassume the debt you owe them. If you do not want to reassume the debt and the creditor is a secured creditor you will be required to return the secured item or items to the creditor. This is generally true with purchase money security interests (NPMSI).
CHAPTER 7 MEETING OF CREDITORS
You will be required to provide your photo ID and Social Security ID before the meeting starts. If you do not have both IDs with you the meeting will probably not be held and you will be required to attend another meeting of creditors at a later date. The type of questions you will be asked by the trustee are: Have you filed bankruptcy before; what happened to cause you to file bankruptcy; did you meet with an attorney to discuss your bankruptcy; was all of the information true and correct at the time you signed them; is the information true and correct today; have you read the U.S. Trustee's Information Sheet; how did you arrive at the fair market value of your home; have you sold any property including real property in the last few years; do you have the right to sue anyone either for a personal injury or money they may owe you; do you have a worker's compensation claim for an on-the-job injury; what are your intentions concerning your secured creditors; and have you listed all of your creditors?
AFTER THE CHAPTER 7 MEETING OF CREDITORS
Generally, very little happens after the meeting of creditors if you are in a Chapter 7. If you have not done so yet, this is the time in which you sign reaffirmation agreements. You may be required to sign reaffirmation agreements for property that is subject to a PMSI; however, we strongly recommend you not reaffirm the NPMSI unless you are trying to protect a cosigner or co-debtor. We do not recommend you sign reaffirmation agreements with unsecured creditors. If you wish to reaffirm an unsecured creditor and you are not attempting to protect a co-debtor, you must have the reaffirmation agreement approved by the judge in your case.
CHAPTER 13 MEETING OF CREDITORS
Generally, you will be asked the same questions as at the Chapter 7 Meeting of Creditors plus some additional questions such as: Are you contributing to a 401(k) or other retirement plan; have you read the Rights and Responsibilities document; have you filed all of your tax returns (your plan will not be confirmed unless you have filed all of your tax returns); are you expecting a tax refund; and how long did you meet with your attorney?
AFTER THE CHAPTER 13 MEETING OF CREDITORS
The meeting of creditors for a Chapter 13 is just the beginning of a Chapter 13 case. Two to four weeks after the meeting of creditors a confirmation hearing is held. Whether or not you will be required to attend the meeting depends on whether or not all required documents have been filed and all objections made by the Chapter 13 trustee have been satisfied.
The trustee may raise one or more objections to the confirmation of your plan for any number of reasons. Most of the objections are minor in nature and may require amending your plan or schedules. The trustee will mail you and your attorney a document outlining the objections. You should receive the document within several days of the meeting. It is most important you start working on satisfying the objections as soon as possible. Even though your attorney will assist you in curing the trustee's objections, it is ultimately your responsibility to see that the objections are satisfied; therefore, you must cooperate with your attorney and his or her staff and respond to their requests timely.
What is a reaffirmation agreement? A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement you enter into with a secured creditor which is holding a car title, a lien on furniture you purchased on credit or a security deed on your home or other real property. Simply put, you and the secured creditor enter into a written agreement, while in the bankruptcy, in which you agree to pay the creditor and the creditor agrees to let you keep the property. Once your grace period in which you can change your mind and reject the agreement passes, you are stuck with the debt as though you never filed bankruptcy against the creditor; therefore, you should not enter into reaffirmation agreements lightly! You should thoroughly discuss reaffirmation agreements with your attorney before entering into any such agreement.
From our office in Lawrenceville, our lawyers represent clients in communities throughout Gwinnett County and Walton County, Georgia. Call us at 770-604-1380 or contact us by email to arrange a free consultation with one of our experienced Lawrenceville bankruptcy lawyers today. At your first meeting, we will determine if you should file for bankruptcy and what information you will need to get started.