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Bringing Someone With You To Your Meeting Of Creditors In Bankruptcy

Los Angeles Bankruptcy 341 Meeting LocationSometimes you just don’t want to go it alone.

When you file for bankruptcy, you’re throwing yourself into uncharted waters.

Stacks of legal documents, hyper-technical lingo, and your financial future looms large.

It’s easy to understand wanting to bring along a friend or relative.

But is it allowed?

Bringing Someone With You To the Meeting of Creditors

When you enter the meeting of creditors in Los Angeles, you’re confronted with a giant sign telling you in no uncertain terms that only those who are filing for bankruptcy, creditors, and lawyers may enter.  All others must remain in the outer room.  That said, I’ve seen some folks sitting in the room who were clearly friends and loved ones of the person filing for bankruptcy.

In New York, no such sign exists.  Friends and relatives mingle with those who are filing for bankruptcy.  Babies nap, play and cry as the clocks ticks by all too slowly.  In fact, I’ve heard of lawyers telling their clients to bring their infants with them and sit in the front row in an effort to get their case called sooner.

In he end, it all depends on where your case is filed and how many others are filing for bankruptcy at the same time.  If there are a lot of people there for a meeting of creditors at the same time, the trustee assigned to handle the cases may ask friends and relatives to wait outside.  In other situations, you just get a trustee who’s a bit more of a stickler for rules.

How To Keep Calm Without A Friend Close At Hand

My clients knows in advance that they should come prepared with a good book or a few magazines to pass to time.  Most times, the meeting of creditors docket is long; that means you could be waiting for awhile.

That’s probably why so many of my colleagues rely entirely on so-called “appearance counsel” to represent their clients at the meeting of creditors.  Though we sometimes need to bring in an outside attorney, that’s the exception rather than the rule.  My partner and I like attending the meeting of creditors with our clients because it’s part of the job we were hired to do.  We all face unavoidable court conflicts, but those times are rare.

Many courts, such at the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts in Brooklyn and White Plains, will make you surrender your cell phone at the front door.  For awhile I watched my clients come into the meeting of creditors waiting room and sit anxiously, having no cell phone to play with.  Now I go to a meeting of creditors with a stack of magazines for my clients to read.

Lean On Your Lawyer

I’ve been representing people in bankruptcy cases since December 1995 (though I didn’t actually file my first case until early 1996) so I know the drill fairly well.  I greet my clients warmly, go through the questions that the trustee may ask, review the petition and schedules with them to refresh their recollection, and generally do what I need to in order to put them at ease.

During the meeting of creditors, the lawyer will sit next to you.  For my clients, that means they’re free to hold my hand if it makes them feel better.  I once had a female client who was so nervous she grabbed my hand so tightly that her nails left a mark in my palm for the rest of the day.

As I said, this is a new world for you.  Maybe you can bring along a friend or relative to the meeting of creditors, maybe not.  Either way, don’t worry – a well prepared bankruptcy case and an experienced lawyer will help you get through the process without breaking a sweat.

 

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By |January 8th, 2013|

About the Author:

I've been a consumer protection lawyer since 1995, working to help people end their bill problems. I'm a faculty member at the Student Loan Law Workshop, a nationally recognized speaker, and a long-time member of both the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and National Association of Consumer Advocates.
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