What if the meeting of creditors goes awry?

Most bankruptcy clients worry needlessly about the “meeting of creditors” in their case — that day about a month after filing when they must drive to Boston, Worcester or Manchester to “face the music” about the case.

In almost every instance, this worry is misplaced, as the meeting (which is actually conducted by the bankruptcy trustee and not the creditors) goes off without a hitch and takes about five or ten minutes of routine questions. Sometimes, their attorney (me) is asked to provide more paperwork, which is usually done fast enough by mail or e-mail.

But what if something does go wrong? What if some loose cannon creditor does show up and start incessently grilling you about particular debts?

California bankruptcy attorney Cathy Moran has written a nice article about what she does if this ever happens.

Among her key points: You do have to go through with the meeting anyway, so ther is no point whining about it. On the other hand, everyone deserves to be treated in a business-like fashion, so if the questioning gets abusive, at some point you should expect your attorney (i.e. me) to put a stop to it.

When answering a creditors questions, what you don’t want to do is appear evasive, which might get you an invitation to come back for a continued meeting. Answer the questions as directly as possible.

And remember to only respond to actual questions asked by a creditor. When creditors show up at these hearings without their own attorney, on occaison they have gone on long rants about how awful it is not to get paid. While they may guinuinely feel that way, this is a speech, not a question, and your only obligation is to answer questions. So listen carefully, and consult as ofetn as necessary with your own bankruptcy lawyer sitting beside you.


By Doug Beaton

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