First of all, relax. These procedures are very informal. The important part is being prepared, which is mostly my job and giving honest testimony.
Who Will Be There? First of all, it’s unlikely any creditors will show up for your case. Credit Unions and exes, whether spouses or business associates, are the most common creditors at these meetings. In both Covington and Cincinnati, these hearings are held in meeting rooms, at tables, rather than in the open Courtroom. The hearing is conducted by the trustee appointed for your case and will not be attended by a judge. Other than us and the trustee, the only people likely to be there are other people waiting for their case to be called.
Why Is The Hearing Held? The hearing is required by the Bankruptcy Code and serves three general purposes:
- Verification of accuracy of the petition–You will be required to testify under oath and on tape that the petition and associated documents are true and correct. You are likely to be asked several questions verifying specific details, as well as checking to be sure I’m doing my job. As an example, you’ll be asked if I showed you the 341Notice. In Chapter 13s, you will also be asked questions about the plan.
- Verification of what assets are available–The trustee will ask you questions about your assets, as well as claims you may have or things you may have transferred to see whether you have any assets that can be sold (in a Chapter 7) or (in a Chapter 13) whether you are paying enough through the plan to protect any assets that would be sold in a Chapter 7.
- Opportunity for Creditors to Ask Questions–Again, they seldom show up, but if someone does appear for your case, you are required to answer reasonable questions truthfully. In the extremely unlikely event that the questions are inappropriate, the trustee or I will ask them to stop.
What Will I Need? When you show up at the hearing, you will need to bring:
- Photo ID and proof of your social security number, e.g. social security card or W2
- Bank statement from all accounts in your name covering the date your case was filed
- Pay stubs from filing to the hearing date (they may not be requested, but are important to bring)
Where Do I Go? For Northern Kentucky Filers: Federal Courthouse, 35 W. Fifth Street, Covington, Kentucky
For Cincinnati Filers: Cincinnati Bell Long Distance Building, 36 E. Seventh Street, Cincinnati, Ohio
When Should I Arrive? Allow yourself plenty of time to park, but unless you want to hear one of the cases before yours, just to see how they go, plan to show up maybe fifteen minutes early. I will meet you there, probably about ten minutes before the hearing. Allow an hour for the hearing and it could take longer, if the hearings are running late. Your hearing will probably only take five to ten minutes, but they are scheduled tightly and tend to run behind, particularly for Chapter 13s and in Cincinnati.
What Happens Next?
- Complete your Debtor Education Course to be eligible for a discharge.
- Chapter 7: After the Meeting of Creditors, your case will have to be held open for sixty days to allow any creditor or the U.S. Trustee’s office the opportunity to file any objections to discharge or dischargeability or a Motion to Dismiss for Abuse. These are extremely uncommon and I will have discussed any risk I perceive with you. The great likelihood is that after the sixty days, your case will be discharged and closed, if the trustee isn’t going to sell assets (also extremely uncommon).
- Chapter 13: After the Meeting of Creditors, either your plan will be confirmed and you will need to continue making payments as we have discussed or we will need to make amendments. Either way, the goal is to get a confirmed plan and to continue making payments. After you make your last payment, you will receive your discharge.
Finally, as always, if you have any questions or any suggestions about how I can make this article more informative, please call or email me. My goals are to reduce your stress and increase your understanding of the bankruptcy process.