What are they going to ask me?, you wonder.
My bankruptcy clients imagine a quiz on the contents of their bankruptcy papers.
Or worse, an inquisition on why they needed to file bankruptcy.
That’s not likely. The first meeting of creditors is much more likely to be a snooze.
Jay Fleischman set out a very comprehensive list of questions a Chapter 7 trustee might ask at your bankruptcy hearing.
Let me add my rules for answering those questions.
1. Listen to the question
Just because you’ve read Jay’s list and think you know what’s coming, listen to the trustee’s question, all the way to the end.
First of all, it’s only polite. Second, you want to make sure that you know what the trustee wants to know.
Your answer is being recorded. You want to make sure you are answering the question that the trustee asked.
2. Answer truthfully
Honest disclosure is the price of getting a bankruptcy discharge. This is not the time to be cute or tell anything less than the truth.
You are answering under oath. You are subject to the penalties of perjury if you intentionally are less than honest.
3. Be brief
Answer the question that the trustee has asked, truthfully, in as few words as possible.
Don’t explain, don’t justify, don’t ramble.
Just answer the question.
If the trustee needs to know more, he can ask a follow up question.
Usually, the trustee is just trying to make a record that he has done his job.
He has a list of cases he has complete. Don’t make his day any longer by volunteering more than he wants to know.
4. Don’t guess
If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. If the answer is honest, it’s perfectly OK.
Perhaps your counsel can help. Maybe there are documents that provide the information.
Don’t pretend to a level of certainty if you don’t really know.
If you’ve been diligent about getting your attorney all the requested information, chances are the first meeting of creditors will be the last, and you’ll be on your way to a fresh start.
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