Notice Guide  
Meeting with the Chapter 13 Trustee

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Don’t worry!
Notice of the Meeting with the Trustee
What to Look at First
Breakdown of the Notice
Security at the Federal Building – Think: Airport
What to Bring to the Meeting

Don’t worry!

At the top of the notice, it says “Meeting of Creditors.”  Don’t panic!  It is very rare for creditors to come to your meeting with the trustee.  Big creditors like banks and mortgage companies know that it is a waste of time and money for them to send someone to these meetings in normal cases. Sending a person to the meeting to ask you questions about your bankruptcy paperwork costs them more than they want to spend. The last big creditor to send someone to these meetings on a regular basis was Sears, and that stopped more than 20 years ago.

In our cases, it is extremely rare for any creditors to attend the meetings with the Chapter 13 trustee (other than the IRS).  We go for months with no other creditor showing up at the meetings, and usually when a creditor is there, it is because they received a notice of the meeting and they saw the line at the top which says “Meeting of Creditors” and they thought that they were required to come.  They usually don’t have any questions.

And, if any creditors do come to your meeting, Jim Gold will be there with you to protect you.  Creditors are allowed to ask you questions, but the types of questions are limited to what is on your court paperwork.  There is no judge at the meeting, but we can object to improper questions and instruct you not to answer them just as if you were in court.  Remember, it is very very unlikely that any of your creditors will be at your meeting, but if there are, we’re prepared to deal with them if they try to harass you, or try to intimidate you, or try to embarrass you.

It is normal to be nervous about the meeting with the trustee, but most people leave the meeting relieved and much more relaxed than they were when they went in, and feeling that they should not have been so worried about it beforehand.

This is the Notice of the Meeting with the Trustee



What to look for first

Items 8 and 9 tell you when your meeting with the Chapter 13 Trustee will take place, and Item 10 tells you where it will take place.  (There are more details below.)


Breakdown of the Notice

Item 1.

This is your case number.  The first two digits are the year in which your case was filed.  The next digit is a 5 because San Jose is Division 5 of the Northern District of California.  The last four digits are a sequential number starting with 0001, which was the first case filed in San Jose for the year, and counting up to your case number.  If you filed late in the year and over 9,999 cases were filed, the 10,000th case has a 6 for its third digit and 0000 for the last four digits, and so on.

Item 2.

This is the date that your Chapter 13 petition was filed with the Bankruptcy Court.  It is the date your case was filed and the date your protection from your creditors started.

Item 3.

This space is for your name(s) and address.  Please look at the spelling of your name carefully, and tell our office if it is not correct.

You are supposed to be mailed copies of various documents filed in your case, and this is the official address where these documents will be sent.

If you change your address during your case, please call us as soon as you can and we will change your official address with the court.  Your official address can be a post-office box or anywhere else you prefer to receive mail; it does not have to be your residence address is some other address is more convenient for you.

Item 4.

This is your Case Number again, just like Item 1.

Item 5.

This is your Social Security Number.  It is a requirement for this to be sent to your creditors so that they can search their records to identify any accounts that you have with them.  This is the only document which is sent out with your full Social Security Number on it, on other documents only the last four digits appear.  In fact, your Social Security Number is not available to anyone outside the Bankruptcy Court online; even our office cannot access your Social Security Number in your court file.

Item 6.

This is our address so that if someone files documents in your case they have an address so that they can mail us a copy.  If creditors file certain types of paperwork in your case, they are supposed to mail our office a copy, and this is the address they are supposed to use.

Item 7.

This is the name and address of your Chapter 13 Trustee, Devin Derham-Burk.  This is the address where you send your Chapter 13 plan payments.  Unlike for Chapter 7 cases where there are several trustees, she is the only Chapter 13 trustee serving the Bankruptcy Court in San Jose.

Item 8.

This is the date set by the Bankruptcy Court for your meeting.  It is generally about seven weeks after your case is filed.  The Chapter 13 Trustee has about ten cases scheduled for every hour usually starting at 9:30 a.m. and continuing throughout the day until about 3:30 p.m. This allows about six minutes for each meeting.

Item 9.

This is the time set for your meeting.  Your meeting will not be held before that time, but sometimes the meeting starts a little later.

Meetings set for the middle of the day, can be delayed for as long as an hour or more, so if you have to leave the meeting room to put more coins into a parking meter be sure to tell the trustee (or your attorney) who you are and why you are leaving the room — that way the trustee will not call your name for your meeting and think that you were not there.

Item 10.

This is the location for your meeting.  In San Jose, meetings are held in the Federal Building in downtown San Jose, located between First Street and Second Street.  The building backs onto the north side of San Carlos Street.

Unfortunately, there is no free parking in the area.  There is limited on-street parking with parking meters on both First Street and Second Street on the block just south of San Carlos Street.  There is a city-owned pay parking garage across Second Street from the Federal Building with entrances on both Second Street and Third Street, and there are two privately-owned pay parking lots with entrances on both sides of Second Street just South of San Carlos Street.

The Federal Building actually consists of two connected buildings extending from First Street to Second Street with a covered walkway between them.  The entrances to both buildings are half-way between First Street and Second Street in the middle of the covered walkway.

The building with the meeting room is the three-story building on the south side of the walkway, the one without the revolving door.  Do not go into the other, five-story building, the one with the revolving door, the Bankruptcy Court is located on the third floor and most people who file bankruptcy never have a reason to go there.

There are usually two lines with people in front of the door waiting to go through security.  The line nearest Second Street moves faster because it is for people with appointments.  And since you have an appointment for your meeting, you should get into that line.  When you get into the building, tell the security guard that you have a bankruptcy meeting, or show the guard your notice from the court or our letter to you about the meeting — the guard will look at the meeting list and allow you to go through the security process to attend your meeting.

The meeting is in Room 130.  It is on the ground floor of the building, all the way down the corridor leading away from the security lobby, in the last door on the right, just past the restrooms.  There is a small waiting room just between the hallway and the actual meeting room.  Do not wait in the waiting room; there is no reason to stop there.  Just go into the meeting room and Jim Gold will meet you there.

We suggest sitting as close to the front of the meeting room as you can so that you can hear what the questions are.  There are no tricky questions, and you already know all the answers, but it is reassuring to see what the procedure is before your own meeting so that you can see that it is not a scary process at all.

Item 11.

This is the deadline for all creditors which are not governmental entities to file a proof of claim in your case.

A “proof of claim” is a document which is filed with the Bankruptcy Court, which is the formal statement by a creditor that you owe the creditor money.  In order to meet this deadline, the requirements are fairly loose, and once a proof of claim (frequently shortened to “claim”) is filed it is what is called “prima facie” proof (proof at first glance) that you owe the money.  But this is just the starting point for determining how much money you owe this creditor, or even if you owe anything at all.

Item 12.

This is the deadline for governmental entities to file a proof of claim in your case.  The government (state, federal, and local) has a deadline of 180 days after your case was filed, the date in Item 2, in which to file a proof of claim.

The governmental agency which files the most proofs of claim in bankruptcy cases is the IRS.  Just like the rule states, the IRS has 180 days in which to file a proof of claim, and this is why the IRS sends people to the meetings with the trustee to ask about getting copies of tax returns.

Item 13.

This item is a date which is a deadline for creditors to file a lawsuit in the Bankruptcy Court to keep their debt from being discharged in your case.  This is a deadline for filing a formal lawsuit against you in the Bankruptcy Court based on fraud, or intentional injury, or giving false financial statements.

If a creditor challenges the dischargeability of a normal consumer debt, and loses, the Bankruptcy Code requires the losing creditor to pay your costs and attorneys’ fees.  So, it is not very common for these types of lawsuits, although credit card companies have computer programs which analyze their accounts during the time leading up to the filing of a bankruptcy to see whether you have increased your charges knowing that you were going to file and wipe out their bill.

Item 14.

This is the deadline for objections to the exemptions you have taken for your assets.  It is 30 days after the end of the meeting with the Chapter 13 Trustee and usually is 30 days after the date in Item 8.

If your meeting with the trustee is postponed or is not finished on the date in Item 8, then the deadline for objections to your exemptions is postponed until 30 days after the end of your meeting.

In a Chapter 13 case exemptions have a different effect than exemptions in a Chapter 7 case, and to understand what their function is in Chapter 13 it is important to start with what they do in a Chapter 7 case.

How exemptions work in a Chapter 7 case:

In a bankruptcy case, the paperwork which is filed can be grouped in three categories:  lists of your assets, lists of your debts, and lists of other information about you and your budget.

The Chapter 7 trustee looks first at your assets because if you have any assets which are not protected by your exemptions, the trustee can grab them and sell them.  The trustee then takes the money from selling the assets and distributes it to creditors according to a priority list in the Bankruptcy Code.  The trustee receives a fee, almost like a commission, from the money collected.

Exemptions are used to protect your assets.  In California, there are two separate lists of exemptions to choose from, and for most people filing Chapter 7 cases, one or the other of the two lists will usually cover all of their assets.

So, in a Chapter 7 case, unless your assets are exempted, they are actually at risk of the trustee taking them, because the assets themselves are used to pay the creditors (and the trustee).

Exemptions in a Chapter 13 case:

In a Chapter 13 case, the trustee does not have the job of selling your assets.  A Chapter 13 plan is required to pay creditors in the plan must receive at least as much as they would have received if you had filed a Chapter 7 case.

So, in a Chapter 13, exemptions are important because they can determine how much you have to pay your creditors.

Item 15.

This is the date set by the court for a hearing on confirmation of your Chapter 13 plan.  “Confirmation” of your plan is the official approval of the plan by your Bankruptcy Judge.

You will not have to go to this hearing.

This is what will happen at this hearing:

If there are no objections to confirmation of your plan from anyone, including your judge, then your plan will be confirmed at that hearing.

But if there are any objections, even if all of the objections are resolved, then your plan will not be confirmed and your plan will be placed on the “Trustee’s Pending List” where it will sit until any objections are resolved – then it will be brought up at another confirmation hearing and confirmed at that time

When a plan is confirmed, all of the terms of the plan become binding on you and your creditors.  That is, everyone is required to comply with whatever is stated in the plan.

Item 16.

This is the date and time of the confirmation hearing.  Again, you do not have to attend.

Item 17.

This is the location where the confirmation hearing will take place.  You are welcome to attend the confirmation hearing, but don’t expect anything exciting to occur, and don’t expect an opportunity to do anything but watch.

If you have any questions about this, please call our office.

Item 18.

This is the address of the Bankruptcy Court.  This is included so that anyone wanting to file any documents in your case has an address for mailing them.  This address is used by creditors who mail in claim forms, although most creditors file claims electronically now.

You will probably never need to use this address, but one thing worth knowing is that all of the documents filed in your case (except the one with your Social Security Number on it) are available online, and the public area of the Bankruptcy Court has two terminals where you can access all the court records.  We have access to these records as well, but we are charged ten cents per page to look at them online.


Security at the Federal Building – Think: Airport

The Federal Building has security just like the airport.  In order to go to your meeting, you will have to pass through the security checkpoint the entrance.  You will have to place the contents of your pockets and anything you are carrying into a tray so that it can pass through an x-ray machine, and you will have to walk through a metal detector.  Most people find that they will have to take off their shoes, wristwatches, bracelets, and other items with metal that registers on the metal detector.

Please do not try to bring in anything that might be considered a weapon.  In addition to the normal definition of weapons as guns and knives, other objects which the security guards will not allow into the building include fingernail clippers, sewing scissors, knitting needles, tools like screwdrivers and pliers, and so on.

If you do bring something that security will not let into the building, the security guards are not allowed to keep it for you until you leave the building.

You will need to have a valid government-issued photo identification in order to enter the building.  This is extremely important to remember.

Do not argue with the security people. They do not make up the rules. However, they will be fired if they don’t enforce the rules.

The types of photo identification which will allow you to enter the Federal Building are California (or other state’s) drivers licenses, state-issued identification cards, passports, federal employee identification cards, and military identification cards.


What to bring to the meeting

The Chapter 13 Trustee will also want to see your photo identification.  The same valid government-issued photo identification used to get into the building will also work so that the Chapter 13 Trustee can verify that you are the person who filed bankruptcy.

The Chapter 13 trustee will also want to see proof of your Social Security number.  The first choice is your original Social Security card, but a Medicare card with your Social Security number on it will work as well.

You do not have to bring the copy of your court paperwork we sent you.  We will have all of the original documents, as well as all of the other paperwork we copied that you brought to our office.  We will have all the bills, paystubs, tax returns, and everything else.

You might want to bring a book or a magazine to read while we wait for your name to be called.  Handheld video games are okay as long as they don’t make noise and disturb people.  It probably won’t be a long time before your meeting, but you might want to bring something to occupy the time just in case.

You can bring your children, friends, relatives, or anyone else whom you don’t mind being there, or who could help you or who need your help. This is not a social event, but if you have someone who can accompany you and you would feel better if they came along, ask them to come with you.  Just tell the security guard as you enter the building that this person is with you for the meeting so that they aren’t kept out of the building because they don’t have an appointment. Tell the person coming with you that they will need photo identification also and not to bring anything which the guards will not allow into the building.  Children are not expected to have photo identification.

The meeting is very informal.  The only thing formal about it is that you are sworn to tell the truth.  There is no judge there, and there is no requirement to dress in any particular way.  On another page of this website we have a description of the meeting which gives you a little more detail of what take place.