In most consumer bankruptcies (i.e. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) you will only have one four-minute hearing your case. The hearing will be approximately 30 to 45 days after the date you file your bankruptcy. The hearing, which is mandatory, is called the 341 meeting of creditors and will be held in front of the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case.
The hearings are generally very routine, with the same questions being asked to each debtor that appears. Usually creditors do not appear at the hearings. If they do appear they are allowed to ask only questions relevant to the assets and the income of the debtor. Almost all questions asked by the Trustee can be answered with a yes or no and do not require further explanation. The Trustee’s will already have reviewed your bankruptcy schedules (all the documents that you file to start your case) and the supporting documentation provided directly to the trustee after filing.
Supporting documentation includes (but is not limited to) your most recent 60 days of pay stubs; most recent 2 years of taxes (personal and business); trust agreements; Wills; titles for all vehicles; recorded deeds for your real estate; recorded mortgages for your real estate; marital settlement agreements; contact information for all domestic support obligations; 90 days of statements for all bank accounts in your name and other such information that may be required to show income and assets coming into and going out of the bankruptcy estate in the 90 days prior to filing. Your attorney will ask for this documentation prior to filing and will provide it to the trustee. All of these documents are required to be provided to the Trustee at least 10 days before the hearing.
Since the Trustee has all of this information prior to the meeting, the hearing itself will be very simple and straight forward. Most 341 hearings last about 4 minutes.
Because the Courts recognize the cost and inconvenience of traveling to them, in Milwaukee, Madison or Eau Claire, for most debtors and their attorneys the 341 hearings are held in various locations around the State.
Continued hearings – If your 341 hearing is continued for any reason, the trustee will schedule the new hearing for their next calendar date which could be Milwaukee or Madison. So it is ideal to complete the hearing at your first date.
Other Hearings – Hearings on motions, objections, and adversary proceedings can be held in Milwaukee, Madison, or Eau Claire. However, Bankruptcy Judges do travel to other locations to conduct hearings for the convenience of the debtor and/or creditors. In addition, some hearings will be scheduled to be held via telephone at your attorney’s office.