Like a court proceeding, the meeting of creditors is open to the public, so anyone can presumably attend. Many debtors are often surprised to walk into a room full of people who are watching the meetings. Because the bankruptcy court schedules four to five meetings at a time, almost all of these people are either debtors like you, or their attorneys.
The trustee assigned to your case will conduct the meeting
The Department of Justice appoints a trustee to oversee the administration of every bankruptcy case. This is the person who will conduct your meeting. The trustee is not a judge, and their function varies slightly depending upon what chapter you file. In a Chapter 7 case, the trustee is looking for non-exempt assets that they can sell to pay your creditors. In a Chapter 13 case, the trustee is looking to ensure that the Debtor has a feasible payment plan. In both chapters, the trustee is also charged with preventing abuse of the bankruptcy system.
You will be questioned on the record and under oath
At the beginning of your meeting, the trustee will start a tape recorder, and will swear you in. The trustee will then verify your identity, and begin questioning you. Even though your attorney will be with you, you are the one who will be answering the questions. The trustee will then review the information in your petition and schedules with you to ensure they are true and accurate. Be sure to speak clearly, and answer all questions truthfully. Once the trustee concludes his or her questioning, creditors will be given the opportunity to question you.
Creditors rarely show up
Most creditors, especially in consumer cases, are large banks, credit card companies, collection agencies, or hospitals. It is not worth their time, cost, or effort to show up for your case.
The meeting does not last very long
Provided you tell the truth, and have fully cooperated with the trustee and your attorney, a Chapter 7 meeting will last five to ten minutes. A Chapter 13 meeting will last about ten minutes.