Every Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Illinois is administered by a Chapter 7 trustee. The trustee’s main task is to sell nonexempt property to repay unsecured creditors. The trustee also looks for fraud, ensures that your paperwork is accurate, and conducts an investigation into your property and your finances. The trustee does much of this fact finding in the “meeting of creditors,” also called the “341” hearing. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Chicago area, you must attend the meeting of creditors; typically, it’s a 5-to-10 minute meeting where you and your Chicago bankruptcy lawyer meet with another lawyer called a trustee. Generally, the trustee’s job is to ask you a series of questions and determine if you have any valuable assets that aren’t exempt and can be sold. The trustee also makes sure you haven’t committed any fraud.
You do not see a judge at the first meeting of creditors. The trustee is your contact with the bankruptcy court. There is a judge appointed to your case, but it is unlikely you will see the judge. At the meeting, the trustee will first check your picture ID and Social Security number. You’ll be sworn in. Then the trustee will ask you some standard questions about your assets and debts. Although it’s called a “meeting of creditors,” your creditors generally do not show up. You may dress formally or casually; the procedure is informal, there is no dress code, and you may bring one or several friends or family members if you choose. Bring a picture ID and your Social Security card. Leave your phone in the car; some Illinois courthouses do not allow cell phones.
If you face overwhelming debts in the Chicago area, several options are available, and bankruptcy may or may not be the appropriate option for you. Before filing for bankruptcy or pursuing any other option, discuss your situation and circumstances promptly with an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer.