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Do I Have To Go To Court When I File Bankruptcy?

Do I Have To Go To Court When I File Bankruptcy?

Many people are intimidated by the legal system--going to court, appearing in front of a judge, and being questioned under oath. However, when you file for bankruptcy, you never really have to go to court. The only appearance you are required to make is attending the 341(a) Meeting of Creditors.

The 341(a) Hearing is held around 30-35 days after your bankruptcy case is filed.

  • If your case was filed with the Riverside Bankruptcy Office, your heasfcring will be held at the Trustee's office location at 3801 University Avenue, Riverside.
  • If your case was filed with the Los Angeles Bankruptcy Office, your hearing will be held on the First Floor of the Ernst & Young Building located in downtown Los Angeles at 725 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles.
  • If your case was filed with the Santa Ana Bankruptcy Office, your hearing will be held on the Third Floor at the Ronald Reagan Federal Building at 411 W. Fourth Street, Santa Ana.

The 341(a) Hearing is when you will meet with the Trustee (usually an attorney or a CPA) who is automatically assigned to your case when it is filed. You will not appear in front of a judge and not even in a courtroom. Your Hearing will take place in a large meeting room. You will be required to bring a valid photo ID (driver's license, passport, etc) and proof of your social security number (original social security card, W-2, tax return, etc). You will wait in the meeting room with other people who are waiting for their case to be called. While you are waiting, you must read a short information handout about bankruptcy. During your hearing, the Trustee will ask you if you've read the handout, but he or she will not quiz you on it. Depending on which Trustee is assigned to your bankruptcy case, you might need to fill out a short, basic, one-page questionnaire as well.

When your name and case is called, head to the front of the room and have a seat in front of the Trustee. If you have an attorney, your attorney will accompany you to the front of the room and sit next to you. Then, present the Trustee with your ID and social security number proof. The Trustee will then swear you in to tell the truth under penalty of perjury. Remember that your testimony and answers must be truthful. The Trustee will then begin a brief examination of you. You will be asked a series of basic yes/no questions. This is a sample if questions:

  • Is the address stated on your bankruptcy paperwork correct and up to date?
  • Have you ever used another social security number?
  • Have you listed all of your assets?
  • Have you listed all of your debts?
  • Have you carefully reviewed the paperwork filed with the court?
  • Are there any errors, mistakes, or omissions in the paperwork?
  • Is the employment information listed in your paperwork correct?
  • Do you owe any support obligations (child support, alimony, etc)?
  • Have you transferred any assets to family or friends within the past 4 years?

The Hearing should last around 3-5 minutes. The Trustee has already reviewed your bankruptcy paperwork so he or she is already familiar with your case. The Hearing is just another opportunity for the Trustee to ask any follow up questions and verify the paperwork.

After the hearing, if there are no outstanding issues to be resolved, your official discharge will be entered in about 60-75 days.

As you can see, the hearing should not be too stressful. We are experienced bankruptcy lawyers located in Rancho Cucamonga. We have filed hundreds of chapter 7 bankruptcy cases and have gone to the 341(a) Hearing with all of our clients. We have had every single one of our bankruptcy filings be successfully discharged. If you have any questions about the Hearing or the bankruptcy process, please feel free to contact us.

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