In the movies and on TV, going to court is presented as dramatic and scary. In real life, court is generally much less spectacular. It’s actually pretty mundane and boring, for the most part. You may actually wait to go before the judge longer than you get to talk to the judge about your case. As a bankruptcy attorney from a firm like the Law Offices of Ronald I. Chorches can explain, in a bankruptcy case, you may not even go before a judge. Although the procedures do vary by location, here’s what to expect when you file for bankruptcy.
Filing For Bankruptcy
If you file for bankruptcy on your own, you will need to take the paperwork to the court clerk. You do have to go to the courthouse, but you won’t have to take part in any formal procedure. If you have an attorney file the paperwork for bankruptcy, it’s likely that it can be submitted to the court electronically. Either way, there’s nothing to fear.
The 341 Meeting of Creditors
After you file for bankruptcy, the court will let you know when you must attend the section 341 meeting. This is when you testify under oath that the information you submitted is correct and truthful. In many places, a bankruptcy trustee, not always a judge, presides over this meeting. It probably won’t even take place in the courtroom.
During this meeting, the trustee will ask you questions about your assets, debts, finances and bankruptcy. Your attorney can help you prepare for this meeting and will be with you. You will be sworn in. Tell the truth, because you cannot lie under oath. Although your creditors (or their lawyers) can show up at this meeting, it’s usually not worth their time and money unless you have some property that they can seize.
The 341 meeting takes 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the complexity of your bankruptcy. You may have to provide additional verification of your expenses or income. If your paperwork is in order, the trustee will approve your bankruptcy. If there are objections to the bankruptcy, you may have to appear before a judge. This may happen if you have joint property that you need to sell, or the trustee believes you have committed fraud in the bankruptcy.
Don’t Fear the Bankruptcy
Filing for bankruptcy is much like applying for unemployment benefits. There is a bunch of paperwork that you submit before meeting with an official who approves your claim or does not. Your lawyer will be with you through the process and will explain everything at every step. Make an appointment to speak to a lawyer about your bankruptcy today.