The Chapter 13 Meeting of Creditors – What to Expect

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Article about what to expect at the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Meeting of Creditors.

bankruptcy, meeting of creditors, chapter 13 bankruptcy, filing bankruptcy

Have you recently filed Chapter 13 Bankruptcy? Do you have an upcoming Meeting of Creditors hearing? Many Chapter 13 debtors get a little nervous about the meeting since they are not exactly sure what to expect. So, I decided to take some notes on exactly what happens during the meeting for the benefit of those who have an upcoming meeting. Of course, I knew what was going to happen since I’ve done these hearings before for my clients, but I wanted to note the exact words this hearing officer (trustee) was using and the exact questions she was asking. Sometimes, clients have visions that creditors are going to sit there and hammer them all day with questions or something. This is just not the case, in my experience. Let’s start with some basics.

What is the Meeting of Creditors?

The Meeting of Creditors is a hearing that is held 20 to 40 days after the bankruptcy petition is filed. The debtor must attend this meeting, at which creditors may appear and ask questions regarding the debtor’s financial affairs and property. If a husband and wife have filed a joint petition, they both must attend the creditors meeting. The trustee also will attend this meeting. It is important for the debtor to cooperate with the trustee and to provide any financial records or documents that the trustee requests.

The trustee is required to examine the debtor orally at the meeting of creditors to ensure that the debtor is aware of the potential consequences of seeking a discharge in bankruptcy, including the effect on credit history, the ability to file a petition under a different chapter, the effect of receiving a discharge, and the effect of reaffirming a debt.

In some courts, trustees may provide written information on these topics at or in advance of the meeting, to ensure that the debtor is aware of this information. In order to preserve their independent judgment, bankruptcy judges are prohibited from attending the meeting of creditors. This paragraph was adapted from Bankruptcy Basics, a FREE publication, click here to get a copy.

What Can You Expect at the Meeting?

Well, that’s what this article is all about. Let’s talk about that:

If you have an upcoming meeting of creditors hearing, the best way to overcome your fear of the unknown is simply to go to a meeting(before yours) and just sit there and observe. That will probably prepare you much more than if you learn about it second hand.

So what I’ve tried to do is give you blow by blow of what happened at this particular meeting of creditors about a week ago (December, 2005). I primarily practice Bankruptcy in the Northern District of California, although I can practice anywhere in California.

Disclaimer: The following is an example of what occurred on a particular date in my jurisdiction (Northern District of California, Oakland Division) at a Chapter 13 Meeting of Creditors hearing in December, 2005. This may vary dramatically from what occurs where you live. Therefore, do not think that the way the meeting is presented above reflects what will occur in your jurisdiction. You should speak to your attorney about what occurs in your particular jurisdiction. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

That having been said, in the Oakland Division of the Northern District of California Bankruptcy court, the meetings are held at a location other than the actual Bankruptcy court. The court itself is across the street. The meetings are held in a suite on the 6th floor of the Federal Building. Inside the suite, there are two main rooms. One is a waiting room where attorneys can confer with clients, talk to each other, etc… The other room is where the actually meeting of creditors hearing occurs. There is usually a person there to help direct you and answer basic non-legal questions about the process.

1. So, let’s say your hearing is at 9 A.M. You get there at 8:30 or so and go into the waiting room. The trustee in our jurisdiction hands out a booklet called “The Chapter 13 Debtor Handbook” which is for you to take home and read and tells all about the process. You are then directed to watch a 15 minute video that explains the basics of bankruptcy and particularly Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

2. Once the video is over, the trustee’s assistant comes into the waiting room and announces that the meeting is about to start and that anyone who is on the 9 A.M. calendar should come into the room where the meeting will be held. There are about 20 or 30 seats and all of the people on calendar head in to the adjoining meeting room.

3. The hearing begins. Trustee starts the calendar and introduces herself. She talks about what will occur at the meeting. The trustee states that she will call debtors individually and that she will question each for approximately 5 minutes. If creditors are present, they will be able to ask questions for 5 minutes per case per debtor. The debtor is to have their Social Security card and ID ready to show to the trustee when their name is called. She says that all payments into the Chapter 13 plan are to be made in cashier’s check or money order. Debtors are not allowed to incur new debt. If you absolutely need to purchase a car for transportation, the trustee must approve how much you can spend on the car and approves the purchase contract. You can only sell or refinance your real property with permission of the trustee. Permission is only given to Title companies when in escrow. In other words, the deal must be already in place.

4. The Trustee calls the name of the first debtor. The debtor and their attorney comes up to the table. The attorney sits on one side of the table and the debtor on the other side. (Picture a long cafeteria-style table. The trustee and her assistants are sitting at the middle of the table facing the front of the room. The attorney and debtor are sitting at the far ends of the table opposite each other).

5. The trustee asks for debtor’s ID and Social Security Card.

6. The attorney states his or her appearance for the record. (e.g. “Leon Rountree, appearing on behalf of John Doe debtor”)

7. The Trustee swears in the Debtor: “Do you solemnly affirm under penalty of perjury that the testimony that you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”?

8. Trustee states for the record: “I have seen the debtor’s Social Security card and identification and Social Security number on the card matches the number on the petition.”

The trustee then asks the debtor the following questions:

9. “Is your home address still: “[Home Address]”?

10. “And do you still work at [Place of employment] as an [occupation]”?

11. If the debtor owns a car and is keeping it:
“Is your car insured”?
“Have you made the necessary car payments”?

If the debtor is not keeping the car,
“Are you surrendering the car”?

12. “Do you own any real estate”?
If yes,
“Have you made all the necessary house payments since the petition
was filed”?

“When did you make those payments”?

“Is the house insured”?

“Do you pay the property taxes directly”?

“Are the property taxes current”?

13. “Have you filed all tax returns for the last five years”?
If not,
“When will they be filed”?

14. “Do you owe any money to the IRS or the California Franchise Tax Board”?

15. If debtor has credit card debt,
“Have you destroyed all your credit cards”?

16. “Do you believe that you can make monthly payments of [Chapter 13 plan
payment] per month”?

17. “Did you review the bankruptcy petition and schedules before signing them”?

18. “Is everything in the petition and schedules true and correct”?

19. Are there any creditors that wish to be heard in this matter?

If everything runs smoothly, the trustee states that she will recommend to the Judge that the Chapter 13 plan be confirmed.

That’s it! When they say that it will last about 5 minutes, they usually mean it. The only exception might be if there are objections of some kind to the plan or a married couple is filing in which case the meeting may last a few minutes longer.

Disclaimer: The above is an example of what occurred on a particular date in my jurisdiction (Northern District of California, Oakland Division) at a Chapter 13 Meeting of Creditors hearing in (December, 2005). This may vary dramatically from what occurs where you live. Therefore, do not think that the way the meeting is presented above reflects what will occur in your jurisdiction. You should speak to your attorney about what occurs in your particular jurisdiction. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article does not create any attorney client relationship. Copyright 2005, Leon H. Rountree III

Are You Financially Prepared For An Emergency?

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A little planning now can help you handle a natural disaster or other emergency.

Are You Financially Prepared For An Emergency?

A little planning now can help you handle a natural disaster or other emergency.

Many Americans have focused on their need to be prepared in case of an emergency. Very few, however, consider financial preparedness in their plans. From keeping an evacuation box with important documents to setting up an account with emergency funds, preparing now can be the difference between financial security and financial crisis.

These simple tips from financial experts at Union Bank of California can help anyone prepare financially for a natural disaster:

• Conduct a Household Inventory

Create a household inventory for items of significant value and locate originals of important financial and family documents. Store original documents in waterproof bags in a safe deposit box or durable “evacuation box” and photocopies in a safe place. Use a CD to back up key documents on your computer. If practical, store copies with friends or relatives who live outside the area.

• Know Your Insurance Policies

Understand what types of losses your renters or homeowners insurance covers. Ask your insurance agent or financial planner about additional coverage for floods, earthquakes, home offices and big-ticket items. Keep copies of your policies in a safe place along with your other important papers.

• Keep Cash Accessible

Keep at least $300 in cash at home in a place where you can get to it quickly in case of a sudden evacuation. The money should be in small denominations for easier use.

• Create and Maintain a List of Emergency Contacts

Keep a list of important emergency contacts, including direct family members, doctors, medical facilities, numbers for your bank, insurance agent and company, lawyer and financial planner/advisor. Credit card 1-800 numbers can help you quickly retrieve account information.

• Keep an Emergency Savings Account

This account should be separate from any other account and contain enough money to cover at least three to six months of living expenses.

“We’ve learned from the aftermath of recent natural disasters that financial preparedness is not always top of mind,” said Union Bank’s Executive Vice President Ronald Kendrick. “Follow these guidelines to ensure you and your family are protected financially.”

Which Would You Rather Do: Forex Or Daytrading?

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Online trading is great way for serious investors to make money, but inexperienced traders often wind up with big losses. A good set of instructions can minimize the risks and save months of expensive trial-and-error learning.

Day Trading

Day Trading had its heyday during the bull market of the 1990’s. All the amateurs have since dropped out, but day trading is still being practiced by professionals. There are fewer opportunities in the current market, but skilled investors can still find them if they know what to look for.

Forex, DayTrading, Stock Market, Investing

Online trading is great way for serious investors to make money, but inexperienced traders often wind up with big losses. A good set of instructions can minimize the risks and save months of expensive trial-and-error learning.

Day Trading

Day Trading had its heyday during the bull market of the 1990’s. All the amateurs have since dropped out, but day trading is still being practiced by professionals. There are fewer opportunities in the current market, but skilled investors can still find them if they know what to look for.

FOREX Trading

The Foreign Exchange Market (FOREX), the world’s largest financial exchange market, originated in 1973. It has a daily turnover of currency worth more than $1.2 trillion dollars.

Unlike many other securities, FOREX does not trade on a fixed exchange rate; instead, currencies are traded primarily between central banks, commercial banks, various non-banking international corporations, hedge funds, personal investors and not to forget, speculators. Previously, smaller investors were excluded from FOREX due to the huge amount of deposit involved. This was changed in 1995, and now smaller investors can trade alongside the multi-nationals. As a result, the number of traders within the FOREX market has grown rapidly, and many FOREX courses are appearing to help individual traders increase their skills.

As a matter of fact, it’s advisable to take FOREX training even before opening a trading account.
It is vital to know the market mechanics of FOREX, leveraging in FOREX, rollovers and the analysis of the FOREX market. Due to this fact, potential FOREX traders would do well to either enroll in a FOREX training courses or even purchase some books regarding FOREX trading.

There are pros and cons to enrolling into a FOREX course. For beginners a FOREX course is a rapid method of learning the basics of FOREX trading. Not much time is spent on history of the market or arcane economic theories. Often, on-line or phone support from a skilled FOREX trader is available to answer any questions. Also, the information is condensed and practical, often with graphs and charts.

The disadvantage is the price, as courses are more expensive than a paperback from the bookstore. Also,
the course may just teach the approach of the trader who wrote it, and individuals have different trading strategies. The student may grow accustomed to the logic and focus of the teacher without coming to realise that nothing is predictable in the FOREX market, and many different strategies will bring profits in varying market circumstances. Also, knowledge of practical applications may not be enough, as the FOREX is highly unpredictable and there are many external factors, such as political issues, affecting the flow of finances in the market.

The best advice would be to do some background research on the FOREX market first, and then enroll in a course.

Convert To Roth IRA Regardless of Income ?2010

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An odd quirk in the recent legislation to extend the Bush Tax Cuts is giving IRA holders a huge break. For one year, and one year only, the income cap will be gone.

ira, roth, retirement, tax, taxes, irs, bush, tax cuts, tax legislation, income, cap, 100,000

An odd quirk in the recent legislation to extend the Bush Tax Cuts is giving IRA holders a huge break. For one year, and one year only, the income cap will be gone.

Convert To Roth IRA Regardless of Income ?2010

2010 may seem like a long way off, but something magical is going to happen then if you prepare for it. The recent legislation extending the Bush tax cuts contains a unique clause regarding the Roth IRA. Specifically, it contains language that makes the Roth IRA available to anyone regardless of their income, but only for one year.

A Roth IRA is a retirement account that offers a lot of advantages. The primary advantage is found in the distributions from the account. Simply put, they are tax free if a couple of requirements are met. First, the distributions must be made after you pass the age of 59 years and six months. Second, you must have owned the Roth IRA for at least five years. If you meet this test, the money is yours free and clear including all the gains you have made from your investments over the years.

The only criticism of Roth IRAs has to do with income caps. Simply put, a person with a modified gross adjusted income of $100,000 or more cannot convert an existing IRA to a Roth. While many people fall below this income cap, those that were just over it certainly have had a beef.

In an effort to extend his tax cuts, the President agreed to a number of oddities in the new tax legislation. One of the strange clauses is a single year cap exemption. In 2010, the income cap of $100,000 will not apply to the Roth IRA. Put in simple terms, you can convert to a Roth in 2010 regardless of how much you make. You can only do it in 2010, not 2009 or 2011.

There appears to be no reason why the politicians would create a one year exemption to the Roth IRA income cap. It certainly seems a bit fishy, but you might as well take advantage of it. While 2010 seems far off in the future, it gives you time to plan any conversion. Remember, if you convert a traditional IRA to a Roth, you must pay taxes on the moved money. If at all possible, you will want to do this with cash you save between now and then. The more money you can cram into a Roth, the better off you will be in the end.

Keeping Up With The Family Finances

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Staying on top of the family finances does not have to be difficult. With a little planning, your finances can be kept up to date with ease. Believe me, having a handle on your family finances goes a long way in creating family harmony.

The first step is to set up a bookkeeping system. We’ve used Quicken software for years. It has helped to keep track of our expenses, and we have been very happy with the program. It takes a little bit of time to set up initially. The seco…

Staying on top of the family finances does not have to be difficult. With a little planning, your finances can be kept up to date with ease. Believe me, having a handle on your family finances goes a long way in creating family harmony.

The first step is to set up a bookkeeping system. We’ve used Quicken software for years. It has helped to keep track of our expenses, and we have been very happy with the program. It takes a little bit of time to set up initially. The second part of your bookkeeping system involves setting up a place to save your receipts. We use a small cardboard divider file with a special slot devoted to “receipts that need to be posted? The key idea here is to have a place where you store all receipts from expenses (including ATM withdrawals) so that they are readily available when you go to enter them into your bookkeeping software.

Once you have the system set up, then you simply enter your receipts, whether income or expenses. As you enter each item, you select a category for it to go into. Reconciling your account is done online. One of the greatest advantages in using an automated system like this is the ability to see your expenses by category. With the click of a button, you can find out what you spent on groceries, entertainment or any other category for any time period, like last week, last month, or the last quarter. Many other reports are available such as a cash flow report and an itemized categories report. Using this system has streamlined our ability to keep our account updated. Bills are easily paid on time.

Once you’ve established your bookkeeping system, then you must set aside time on a regular basis to update it. For our family, we’ve found that a weekly update works well. My husband and I alternate weekly turns on posting receipts and then reconciling our account. It never takes us more than 30 minutes at a time and our account is always balanced.

If you are behind in your finances, start by doing just 15 minutes at a time. You’ll catch up eventually. Then, be sure to make time on a regular basis to keep up with your account. Having your finances in order is a real stress reliever and can be attained by anyone!

Tips on Saving Energy Dollars in Your Home

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A typical U.S. family spends more than $1,600 a year on home utility bills, yet making some simple changes around the home can save money and make heating and cooling systems more efficient, according to World Energy Solutions, a publicly traded energy services company based in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Tips on Saving Energy Dollars in Your Home

A typical U.S. family spends more than $1,600 a year on home utility bills, yet making some simple changes around the home can save money and make heating and cooling systems more efficient, according to World Energy Solutions, a publicly traded energy services company based in St. Petersburg, Fla.

By evaluating facilities and equipment, World Energy Solutions (symbol: WEGY) helps businesses lower their utility consumption and maintenance costs and extend the life of their equipment.

“Many of the energy-saving strategies we use for our commercial customers can also be applied to the home,” says Benjamin Croxton, chief executive officer of World Energy Solutions. “There are many common-sense, low-cost and no-cost ways to lower your home energy use as well as many new technologies that can be applied to your home’s energy-consuming systems.”

Here are some tips from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy on things homeowners can do to make their homes more energy efficient:

* Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting.

* Use energy-saving settings on refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and clothes dryers.

* Use compact fluorescent bulbs, which can save three-quarters of the electricity used by incandescents. First to be replaced should be any 60-watt to 100-watt bulbs that are used several hours a day.

* Have your heating and cooling systems serviced in the fall and spring. Duct sealing can also improve the energy efficiency and overall performance of your furnace or central air conditioner.

* Clean or replace furnace, air conditioner and heat-pump filters.

* Assess your heating and cooling systems to determine if you should replace or retrofit them to make them work more efficiently to provide the same comfort, or better, with less energy.

“If your home’s central air-conditioning system is over 10 years old, a new state-of-the-art system can save you 30 percent or more of your home’s air-conditioning expense,” says George Walker, air-conditioning expert with World Energy Solutions.

Survey: Saving Money Easier to Say Than Do

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If you find it hard to save, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey, many Americans think about saving for the future, but few actually do it. The Braun Research and Bank of America survey is a revealing portrait of how residents of major metropolitan cities view money and the importance of saving.

Survey: Saving Money Easier to Say Than Do

If you find it hard to save, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey, many Americans think about saving for the future, but few actually do it. The Braun Research and Bank of America survey is a revealing portrait of how residents of major metropolitan cities view money and the importance of saving. Some of the findings:

* New Yorkers stress over money, but they also tend to be spendthrifts, putting their savings toward pampering. Conversely, 36 percent of New Yorkers save for education expenses versus 27 percent for the average American.

* Los Angeles residents’ highest priority is paying bills, but they also tend to put money aside for special occasions.

* San Franciscans are less inclined to set financial goals, but 64 percent of residents are saving for retirement, compared to 55 percent of Americans in general.

* Residents of Miami are worried about saving for themselves and their families, but just 23 percent are actually saving.

* Chicagoans are three times more likely to comparison shop to find the best price and think of themselves as frugal. Twenty-four percent of Chicago residents use direct deposit to help save money compared to 12 percent of average Americans who do the same.

* Seventy-six percent of Dallas residents are likely to save for the future in general rather than for a specific purpose. If given an extra $1,000, they would be more likely to put it toward home improvements.

Any of this sound familiar? Do you often find yourself with little or nothing after paying the bills and using that remainder for a luxury rather than putting it in the bank?

“Americans know they need to save for a rainy day, but they need a helping hand. Bank of America’s “Keep the Change” savings program helps consumers save for a rainy day, one penny at a time, through everyday purchases,” said Diane Morais, deposits and debits products executive at Bank of America.

“Keep the Change” is an automatic savings program that helps consumers build and keep stronger savings habits. When consumers in the program make a purchase with their Bank of America Visa check card, the price is automatically rounded up to the nearest dollar. At the end of the day, the difference is transferred to the customer’s savings account. Bank of America matches 100 percent of the transfers for the first three months of enrollment and 5 percent thereafter, up to $250 paid annually.

The program has already helped more than 2 million Americans save over $60 million in loose change.