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Easier Than You Think: Your Bankruptcy Appearance

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Just the act of a bankruptcy filing can make some people feel embarrassed, but that might pale in comparison to the thought of making an appearance in public before a bankruptcy judge. You already feel a bit sheepish about your financial situation, and you know that taking responsibility for your situation is important. Fortunately, this dreaded appearance in bankruptcy court is usually nothing to be worried about, so read on to learn more about your chapter 7 federal meeting, known as the creditor's meeting.

More of a meeting and less of a court appearance

While it's possible that your meeting will be held in an actual federal courthouse and courtroom, it is just as common for it to be held in large conference rooms in federal buildings. In most cases, you will only need to appear for this one meeting, unless you have a more complicated bankruptcy case. You may be wondering why this meeting is referred to as a creditor's meeting, and that name alone could give you pause. Don't worry, creditors seldom appear at these meetings, and you will have plenty of advance notice and preparation when they do appear.

Your bankruptcy administrator

You may be already familiar with the person who heads up your creditor's meeting through the correspondence you've received from the bankruptcy court. This is usually your bankruptcy trustee, who can be a judge as well, but may also be an attorney with bankruptcy experience.

What goes on at the meeting

On your appointed day and time, you will be waiting in a room or courtroom with many other people given the same appointment time as you. Names of filers will be called in alphabetical order, and you will likely be given the opportunity to watch as filers go through the same motions over and over again:

  1. You will stand and approach the trustee's desk
  2. You will be sworn in
  3. You will be asked several questions (usually about 4 or 5), such as "Is this your signature on the bankruptcy paperwork", "Have you read and do you understand what you signed?" and so on.

When creditors appear

There are several situations that could have you answering questions from your creditors:

  • You have a loan that you want to keep paying on so that you can keep the property. This is known as a reaffirmation of the loan. You will need to make a pledge and sign a form.
  • Your used your credit cards and ran up the debt just prior to filing. You will need to show that you used the credit for non-frivolous reasons, such as a car repair or appliance replacement. Taking cash advances prior to a filing could also catch the attention of creditors, so speak with your bankruptcy attorney before you file about using credit.