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Chicago Bankruptcy Question: What is a Chapter 13 Meeting of Creditors?

Chicago Bankruptcy Question of the Day: What is a Chapter 13 Meeting of Creditors?  One of the requirements of completing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is attendance at a meeting of creditors as required by Section 341 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.  In the Chicago area, the location of the meeting of creditors is determined by the county in which you live.  A list of the locations for Chicago area Section 341 Meetings of Creditors can be found on the U.S. Department of Justice's website under the U.S. Trustee program (we are in Region 11 in the Chicago area).

Upon the filing of your Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition and plan, the clerk of the court will assign a trustee to your case and assign a date and time for your meeting of creditors.  Notice of this meeting will go out to all of the interested parties in your case and all are welcome to attend, except for members of the court, whom are specifically excluded from participating.  Generally speaking, it is rare for a creditor or other interested party to attend these meetings and only you, your bankruptcy attorney and the trustee's representative will attend.

Your appearance at the Chapter 13 meeting of creditors is mandatory.  If you do not appear, the case will not go forward and will be dismissed in short order.  When you appear, you will be required to provide your state issued driver's license or identification card and your original social security card.  You should also bring a recent pay advice with you in order to prove your income to the trustee.  Prior to the meeting, your attorney should forward to the trustee the pre-filing pay advices and tax returns that are required to be tendered.  This meeting is usually the only appearance that you are required to make in your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case and your attorney should be there with you.

At the meeting, the trustee's representative will verify your identity, swear you in and proceed to ask you a series of questions.  The meeting is recorded by an audio recorder in the office, so you will have to answer all of the questions loud enough to be recorded.  The trustee will verify that it was your intent to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection, verify that the information in your petition and schedules is accurate and verify that your plan of reorganization is feasible, reasonable and within the bounds of the law. 

The trustee may raise some issues or objections to your petition and/or plan of reorganization.  While the trustee is not against you, keep in mind that one of their jobs is to ensure that your creditors receive the maximum distribution possible.  Any issues raised at your meeting of creditors should be addressed by your attorneys prior to the scheduled court date (the "confirmation hearing") and discussed with you when they are addressed. 

On occasion, creditors do appear at these meetings.  If they choose to, they may ask you some questions on the record.  Your attorney should ensure that the questions are appropriate and within the scope of the meeting.  Once the meeting is concluded, the case will go forward through the confirmation process.

Having an experienced bankruptcy attorney represent you in this process is imperative.  They will ensure that all required documents are tendered timely so that the meeting goes forward, address any issues or objections that the trustee has while looking out for your best interests and ensure that if any creditors do appear, they stay within the bounds of what is appropriate.  The Chicago bankruptcy lawyers at Ledford & Wu will zealously advocate on your behalf to ensure that your case goes forward properly and remains in your best interests.

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