Here is an outline of what to expect in Manhattan (Southern District of New York) and Brooklyn (Eastern District of New York) Bankruptcy meeting of creditors.
Currently, do to the COVID virus the meetings are being done over the phone or via zoom. You will still need your license and social security card with you. Make sure to take the second online debtor education course before that meeting. If you use my office I or one of my attorneys will call you a day or 2 before to prepare you and we will both call/zoom into the teleconference about 10 minutes before the meeting. Make sure to keep your phone on mute and not put the trustee on hold. There will be several people on the phone/zoom at the same time. Once your case is called take your phone off mute to answer the trustee’s questions.
Your answers should be a “yes” or “no” whenever possible. The less said the better. Try not to elaborate. You are allowed to think before answering the question. If you do not have an answer then tell the trustee you will need to check your records and get back to him.
If you have retained me then I will forward you the call information via email as soon as I get it.
So, here are some sample questions and typical answers(yours may be different depending on your situation):
1. Have you read the Bankruptcy information sheet?–Yes
2. Would you still like to file for bankruptcy?–Yes
3. Is this your signature on the petition?–Yes
4. Have you read the entire petition and would you like to make any changes to it?–Yes and No
5. Have you ever owned any real property? When and what happened to it? How much did you make from the sale of the property? What did you do with the money?–No
6. Do you have a car? If so, what is it worth and how much do you owe on it.-No
7. When is the last time you used a credit card and for what?—1 year ago, food
8. Have you ever received an inheritance?–No
9. Do you have the right to sue anyone or are you currently suing anyone?–No
10. Are you holding any property for someone or is anyone holding property for you?—no
11. How did you get in this situation?—Misused my credit cards or I was unemployed and used my cards.
12. What is the highest balance you have had in an account in the last year before filing your case(at 1 moment in time)? What about the last 2 years? Where did the money come from and what did you do with it?—$2000, from work, each paycheck, bills
13. Have you given any friends or family members money, assets or anything of value in the 6 years before filing your case? Typically the trustee is looking for something valuable like a large gift or multiple payments that benefit someone else(such as paying a family member’s car loan or their mortgage).—No
14. Are you married?–No
15. Who lives with you?—No one
16. If someone lives with you do they contribute to you financially?(The trustee is looking to see if someone else should be listed in your household in the case. If this is the case you may need to show the trustee their proof of income and add it to your case(this may disqualify you from chapter 7 or make chapter 13 payments more expensive). If you simply have a roommate then they are not part of your household. A “domestic partner” or “spouse” should be included unless you are financially separated. Some trustees look at bank statements to see if there are transfers…Discuss this with your attorney
17. Do you have any stocks, bonds, annuities, cryptocurrency or anything like that?–No
18. Do you have any retirement accounts and if so what kind?—401k
19. Have you paid back any of your creditors over $5000 in the last 6 months?
20. Have you given any friend or family member over $2000 in the last 6 months?
21. Have you been paying off a friend or family member’s bills(car lease, credit cards, student loans)?–No. If the answer is yes contact your attorney
22. How long have you lived at the address listed on your petition? If less than 3 months contact your attorney.
What is the trustee looking for by asking these questions?
- Money. He wants to see if you have given anything to friends or family members in the last 6 years or paid off their bills. For instance, if you gave your sister $300 a month for 2 years the trustee could potentially try to get $7,200 from her. The trustee could sue her for this. If you paid her student loans $300 a month for 2 years he could try to recover from the sister or student loan lender…Same with a car. However, if she is disabled and you are her only means of support (or she would be homeless… there is a low likelihood the trustee could collect from her. Similarly, if she is on welfare and has no assets the trustee would likely not be interested
- The trustee wants to see if there is non-exempt equity in a house, car or other asset to sell it. For instance, if your house is worth $400,000 and there is a $220,000 mortgage left on it then there is $180,000. Assuming you used the NY State exemptions then the $180,000 can be exempted. However, if the house is worth $1,000,000 then the trustee will likely sell it, pay off the mortgage, pay you $180,000 and use the balance to pay off your debt and Trustee’s fees. Any surplus would go to you.
- If you have a lawsuit pending the Trustee may want to take it over and use the proceeds to pay off your debt.
Then maybe a few direct questions about your petition. Then usually the trustee will say have a nice day and you are finished! Do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions about this process (212-244-2882)