What happens at the meeting of creditors?

What happens at the meeting of creditors?

When you file a bankruptcy case, there is a hearing called a “341 meeting of creditors”.

The meeting of creditors takes place whether you file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13. It occurs thirty days after your bankruptcy petition is filed. The meeting lasts about 10 minutes, and it is telephonic not over zoom.

There is a conference bridge so when you call in, everyone (you, your attorney, and the trustee) will be on the phone line. You will be prepared for the hearing because we thoroughly review all the documents the trustee will ask you about when we prepare the petition. Since everything is disclosed on the bankruptcy petition and your documents are provided to the trustee in advance of the meeting, your attendance at the hearing should really be a formality to getting your discharge.

If there is anything special about your case, such as being over the exemption amount you would know that in advance of filing your case so there should be no surprises. Many people ask if all their creditors show up for the meeting. It’s a bit misleading that it’s’ called a meeting of creditors because it is extremely rare that any creditors appear for the meeting.

Creditors appear in probably in less than 1% of cases. There would likely have to be a special issue such as a lender asking where the debtor’s car might be located if they are surrendering it or a creditor that the debtor personally knows. Typically, the meetings run very smoothly and on time.

Should I file a Business Bankruptcy or Personal Bankruptcy?

Should I file a Business Bankruptcy or Personal Bankruptcy?

In today’s current market business owners are faced with numerous challenges from finding employees to drastically increased costs. They are faced with the question of whether they will be able to continue their business or whether it’s better to close it.

That is a very personal decision since so much goes into starting and sustaining a business. There are several factors we look at in making that determination.

Are there any business assets such a commercial building, inventory, or equipment that should be liquidated to pay your creditors? Your assets cannot be sold or transferred for your benefit at the expense of paying your creditors. Even transferring assets to a new business venture can disqualify you from filing bankruptcy so its very important to consult with an attorney before making any decisions on the proper steps to close your business. Another issue is whether the debt is exclusively in the business name, did you personally guarantee the business debt, or did you use your personal credit lines to fund your business?

In most cases, there is a personal guarantee on business debt and personal credit cards are used to keep the business afloat. If the majority of your debt, is non-consumer or business-related then you would qualify for a Chapter 7. Again, it is important to seek the advice of an attorney to determine which Chapter type you would qualify for under the bankruptcy code.

Many times, if the business has no assets and will be closed then it can just be administratively dissolved without the need to file for bankruptcy. Another issue also is whether there are any outstanding account receivables, do you reasonably expect payments in the future, or expect any reoccurring income? There is also a potential that that could be collectable by the trustee if you are filing a business bankruptcy.

All of these factors need to be considered whether determining whether to file a business bankruptcy or a personal Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy.

What is bare legal title?

What is bare legal title?

This issue comes up frequently when the person who files for bankruptcy (otherwise known as the debtor) is on the title to a vehicle that someone else drives and makes the payments on.

This happens oftentimes when a parent keeps the vehicle in titled in their name instead of their child’s name but the child drives it. It also happens when the debtor puts the vehicle and loan in their name for a family member who does not have good credit. If there is equity in the vehicle (the value of the vehicle exceeds what you own on it) and that amount is over the allowed bankruptcy exemptions you would need to pay the trustee the difference.

However, if you have not paid anything towards the vehicle or any gas or paid for any maintenance then there is an exception you might qualify for called bare legal title which allows you not to have to pay anything to the trustee under those circumstances.

You may have to provide proof that the other person has been the one making the payments. Bare legal title applies to personal property and cars. However, you cannot have bare legal title to real property.

If you are on the deed of any real estate, whether you live there or not, or whether you have paid for it or not, that cannot be considered bare legal title. At that point, we would need to evaluate if the property can be exempt as your homestead or not.

Can I Rent After Bankruptcy

Can I Rent After Bankruptcy

Many people ask whether they will be able to rent a home or apartment after filing for bankruptcy. The answer to that question is yes. It’s a common requirement to fill out an application with the property manager and have them run your credit history.

Within a short period of time after receiving your discharge your credit score should continue to improve if you are making timely payments to your obligations such as your car payment. You also have more disposable income after filing your bankruptcy case because you will be debt free. Landlords are more likely to have an issue with prior evictions than a bankruptcy filing.

A few things can help you during the application process to help assure the landlord you would not be at risk for default. If you have lived in your existing rental and have paid on time for at least a year that’s helpful. Even better if you can use your current landlord as reference. Additionally, if you have had a consistent job history with the same employer that is also helpful with no gaps of unemployment.

If you have a lower credit score you may be required to pay a higher security deposit or have a co-signor on the lease. Typically, rent does increase each year so keep that in mind when you begin to rent to make sure it’s affordable long term. Ask what items are included in the rent such as water, cable or trash or if that and additional cost. Having a roommate at least temporarily could help defray some of the cost as well.

Can I Give or Receive Gifts During Bankruptcy?

Can I Give or Receive Gifts During Bankruptcy?

There are several rules you have to be careful to follow when you are giving or receiving gifts before filing your bankruptcy case. You must disclose any gifts over $600 to any one person two years prior to filing your bankruptcy case. For that reason, it is best to keep the gift giving to a minimum to avoid having to pay the trustee.

You may give towards charitable contributions such as your church up to 10% of your income. It is fine to receive monetary gifts. For example, if your uncle gives you two thousand dollars to help you pay bills, you can that use money on reasonable living expenses without it being a problem.

If you receive regular financial contributions on a monthly basis, that money might have to be considered as income for the purpose of determining your eligibility for a Chapter 7.

I would recommend consulting with an attorney prior to receiving a gift that would be considered an asset like a car. For example, say your parents buy you a $10,000 car that is now titled in your name. That asset would not be fully exempt and that might require you to pay the trustee several thousand dollars.

That could have been avoided by keeping the car in your parent’s name. Do not transfer property out of your name to avoid paying the trustee because any transfers of property would still need to be disclosed for up to two years.

We generally recommend not making any property transfers before filing your case if you can avoid it or definitely get advice prior to doing so.

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