As a Campton Hills bankruptcy lawyer, I know that the trustee in a Chapter 13 case is going to scrutinize the budget. The trustee is going to scrutinize the amount of income that the debtor has received in the last six months. The trustee is going to look at the paycheck stub and make sure that the debtor is not taking out any unnecessary deductions or is not overly exempting his taxes. The trustee is also going to scrutinize the monthly budget to make sure that the debtor is not overspending with regard to food, clothing, entertainment, utilities, transportation, extracurricular and other costs. The Chapter 13 trustee wants to make sure that you are providing the proper amount to your creditors over the next three to five year period. That is primarily the role of the trustee when you file bankruptcy.
At the meeting of creditors under a Chapter 13 case the Chapter 13 trustee, you, as the debtor, and your bankruptcy attorney will be present. Once again creditors do have an opportunity to appear at the meeting of creditors, however, seldom do they appear.
Creditors usually allow the Chapter 13 trustee to conduct the examination and determine whether or not you are complying with the bankruptcy process in providing all of your disposable income towards a Chapter 13 plan over the next three to five years.
Creditors in a Chapter 13 case do have the opportunity to object to confirmation if they feel you as the debtor are not properly conducting yourself pursuant to the bankruptcy code.
There is a second court date in Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases known as a ‘confirmation hearing.’ The debtor typically does not have to appear at a confirmation hearing unless it is actually going to a hearing in front of the bankruptcy judge. At the confirmation hearing the trustee in a Chapter 13 case will either recommend that the case be confirmed or ask that the case be denied confirmation.
If the trustee and your bankruptcy lawyer cannot work out the different amendments then it might have to go to a hearing before the judge who will actually make the decision as to whether or not the case is confirmable or not.
So technically there is a second court date in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, although debtors usually do not have to appear at that meeting. Thus, in both a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case there is significantly only one appearance that a debtor must appear at and that’s the 341 meeting of creditors.
You do not need to fear this 341 meeting of creditors because your Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer will prepare you in advance as to the type of questions that the trustee is going to ask you. In addition, you are simply stating ‘yes,’ ‘no’ and giving details to the information that’s already provided for in your petition which you signed under oath; thus, there is no real mystery to this 341 exam. It is not going to be like a pop quiz where you are going to be bombarded with questions that you don’t expect; in fact, your attorney will likely give you a list of the types of questions that the trustee is going to ask prior to the meeting. You should feel very comfortable in the meeting and very comfortable by the fact that you have your attorney at your side at that meeting of creditors.