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              What can I expect at the First Meeting of Creditors?  

           Since I often hear this question, here is some general       information on a Chapter 7 hearing in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California.
  • Plan to arrive 20 to 30 minutes early and do not bring children with you.  To enter the building you’ll have to pass through a security screening.  If you’re in the habit of carrying a penknife or similar tool leave it at home or in your car.  
  • You MUST have your driver’s license or other picture ID and your social security card with you.  If the trustee wants to see other documentation you will have received this request on your Notice of Hearing.  Several different cases are set for the same time so take a seat and wait for your case number and name to be called.
  • After being sworn in under oath and a few general instructions you’ll be asked to show your identification documents to the Bankruptcy Trustee.  The trustee will look to see that the information on your documents matches that on your bankruptcy petition.
  • You, your attorney and any co-debtor will be sitting in the front of a room with other people in it.  Most of these people are debtors like you with their attorneys.  Sometimes there are debtors alone without attorneys.  Occasionally there are creditors attending to examine debtors under oath.  
  • The proceedings are generally recorded so you must speak clearly and with enough volume to be heard well if the recording needs to be played back some day.
  • You’ll be asked questions about the forms that you filled out -- are they complete and accurate?  Are there any changes or errors you now know of?  Do you expect to get an inheritance in the next 180 days?   Along with these sorts of general questions, you may also be asked about your specific circumstances such as:  How you valued an asset, or how your business assets are being used?
  • Creditors rarely show up and usually in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy this will be the only hearing you’ll have.  If there is a fraud issue, or other motions you’ll have additional hearings.
  • Watch the videos at this link for more information on what to expect during your bankruptcy.