creditors. The meeting, by statute, must be held between 21 and 40 days from the filing date. The
debtor will receive a notice from the court shortly after the filing notifying him to appear for the
examination. The meeting of creditors affords the trustee, creditors and parties in interest with the
opportunity to question the debtor with regard to his or her property and debts. The debtor is
required to file Bankruptcy Schedules and Statement of Financial Affairs with their Petition. Those
documents provide a road map that outlines the Debtor's property and debts as of the filing date,
and discloses certain financial transactions that took place in various time periods prior thereto. The
trustee will read those documents before the meeting. They documents are available to the public and
may be read by creditors and parties in interest. The trustee will ask questions at the meeting of
creditors which are designed to uncover assets that might not be disclosed in the Schedules and
Statement of Financial Affairs. Those assets are typically previously owned real property, prior
business interests, prior or future litigation and generally any asset that might have a value large
enough to potentially make a distribution to creditors.
creditor might (i) ask the debtor about an asset that has not been disclosed; (ii) seek to find out if the
debtor intends to reaffirm an obligation such as a car loan; or (iii) ask questions designed to support
a complaint objecting to the debtor's discharge.
The meeting of creditors is usually held at the courthouse but could be held elsewhere. A judge does
not preside at the meeting which ordinarily is not held in a courtroom but a meeting room. The
trustee will usually be assigned a case load of up to about 15 cases an hour. The trustee will examine
each debtor. The actual examination in a simple case might last as little as 3‐5 minutes. In a more
complicated case it could last up to an hour or more. Accordingly a debtor must be prepared to
spend a half day or more for the examination as there is no guarantee that all the examinations will
When serving as debtor's counsel I prepare the client in advance to comfortably and truthfully
respond to these questions. Both attorney and client want to minimize the time spent answering the
trustee’s questions and avoid unnecessary extra scrutiny into the debtor’s affairs. Keep in mind that
a trustee may be assigned upwards of a thousand cases each year. Most of those cases have no
assets to distribute to creditors, but the trustee will not know that a case has no assets without
some level of investigation. The volume of cases assigned to a trustee provides motivation to review
and close cases as quickly and efficiently as possible. It therefore makes sense to provide the trustee
what he needs to know about the case. This will avoid follow up letters for the debtor to supply
documents or the debtor having to appear for examination at an adjourned meeting of creditors.
Accordingly, prior to the meeting it is best practice to send the trustee copies of all the documents
the trustee might ask be produced at the meeting of creditors (deeds, bank statements etc.) so the
trustee can review them in advance and hopefully close the examination right then and there.
Counsel should also bring extra copies for the trustee in the event he does not have his copies readily
When not representing debtors and serving in my capacity as a chapter 7 Trustee I ask the questions
listed below. The questions are designed to try and uncover assets. The responses received may lead
to follow up questions. Here are the basic questions I ask in every case which a debtor must be able
to answer accurately.
‐ Have you ever owned a home, house, co‐op, condo or real property of any type?
‐ Does anyone owe you any money?.
‐ Are you presently suing anyone?
‐ Do you have any claims where you could sue someone and recover money such as a car
accident or malpractice case?
‐ Have you ever been self‐employed or been engaged in your own business?
‐ In the last 6 years have you sold or transferred any asset that you owned or had an interest in
that had a value of $5,000 or more?
‐ In the last year have you paid or transferred any money or property to a family member or
business associate on account of a debt?
‐ Do you now own any stocks or bonds?
‐ Have you sold or transferred any stocks or bonds in the last 2 years?
‐ At any one time in the last year have you had $5,000 or more in cash and banks?
‐ Has anyone died in the past and left you anything?
‐ Do you expect to inherit anything in the next 6 months?
‐ Have you paid college tuition for an adult child in the past 6 years?
‐ I will also ask any specific questions that need to be asked that arise from reading the
Schedules and Statement of Financial Affairs or questions that creditors might bring to my
Proper preparation for the meeting of creditors can reduce debtor’s stress, manage expectations
and save everyone a lot of time.