Everything has been compiled and completed and my Chapter 7 case is being filed tomorrow. I have filled out the schedules with all of my income, expenses, assets and liabilities. I have given copies of my last 6 months pay stubs, two years tax returns and 6 months of my bank statements to my attorney. While I wait for my lawyer to provide me with the case number I think about what my Chapter 7 Trustee will do.
My Trustee is appointed from a pool by the Office of The United Trustee. The Trustee will be paid a fee upon the completion and closure of the case. If, during the administration of the case the trustee finds a non-exempt asset and after a hearing, sells it, an additional fee will be earned by the Trustee. All fees paid to Trustees are regulated and reviewed by the Court.
My Section 341 Creditor’s Meeting is about 30 days away. During that time the Trustee will look over and review my Petition, Schedules, Statement of Financial Affairs and all of the financial documents I provided my lawyer. During the review, the Trustee may find something of interest and ask my lawyer for additional documents. The Trustee is not a Judge.
The §341 Creditor’s Meeting building is adjacent to the Courthouse. I am told to go early, parking is challenging. The building is a secure federal facility, metal detectors, armed guards and U.S. Marshals, so I only bring my identification and essentials. There are usually several rooms with bankruptcy meetings going on.
I find and speak with my lawyer for a few moments and have a seat and wait for them to call my case. When called my lawyer and I sit at the table and I get sworn in to tell the truth. I show the Trustee my Florida Driver’s License and answer a series of questions starting with my name address, social security number and maybe my date of birth.
Do I own any real estate? Do I own any precious metals, gems, jewelry or diamonds? Any valuable collections? Coin, card, stamp or original work of art? Have I been injured in an accident? Do I expect to be able to sue anyone for anything? Am I owed money? Am I entitled to a tax refund? Do I have a safe deposit box? Has any family member passed away and do I expect to inherit any money? In the last year have I transferred anything of value to a friend or family member? Is anyone holding any property for me? The list is long but the trustee is good at this and it moves along quickly.
The Trustee is satisfied with my answers and information. No additional documents are requested and the documents which were originally furnished to my attorney are returned to me for safekeeping. I have another financial class to take and my Discharge should be entered by the Court after another 90 or so days and my case will be over.
Not all cases are simple but bankruptcy is actually a very predictable process with few surprises. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can identify issues before they happen and help you navigate through the bankruptcy process. A problem free bankruptcy is the beginning of your fresh start.