A debtor must appear and testify at a meeting of creditors. If the debtor is unable to attend on the date scheduled, a debtor may be able to reschedule the meeting. If the debtor will be out of the area for a period of time, the debtor will need to contact the trustee and then the Grand Rapids' Office of the U.S. Trustee for permission to appear by telephone, typically at a U.S. Trustee's Office in another area. Trustee Hagan's meetings are held in courtrooms, and the debtors must be prepared to pass through security. Bankruptcy judges are not in attendance at this meeting.
At the meeting, the trustee will call the name of the case (the debtor's last name) and ask the debtor, the debtor's attorney, and any attending creditors to join her at the meeting table. The trustee will ask for the debtor's photo identification and original proof of social security number. Note that the trustee cannot accept tax returns for this purpose. Acceptable proof of social security number includes: social security card, medical insurance card, pay stub, W-2 form, IRS form 1099, and Social Security Administration report. Keep in mind that many documents no longer contain the entire social security number; the document presented must contain the full number and be legible (without any numbers redrawn or covered with ink). It is important to remember proof of social security number, as this is one of the most common reasons the debtors must return to see the trustee.
The trustee will place the debtor under oath, and then conduct the meeting, which typically lasts less than 10 minutes. She will ask questions of the debtor regarding the debtor's financial affairs and property. After the trustee is done questioning the debtor, any creditors in attendance will be given an opportunity to ask questions. It is important that everyone speak loudly and clearly, as the meeting is being recorded. It is especially important that the debtor hear and understand all questions asked by the trustee (and any creditors), since the debtor is under oath, and false answers have consequences.
At the end of the meeting, the trustee will inform the debtor and debtor's attorney whether the meeting is closed (meaning the debtor need not reappear for the trustee; but that does not mean the case is closed) or continued to another date. Typically a case is continued to another date so that the debtor and debtor's attorney can provide additional documents to the trustee. If the trustee requests documents at this meeting, email them to her directly to ensure prompt review. If the adjourned time is set at 9:00 or 9:01 am, then attendance is required, unless excused in writing by the trustee. If the documents are provided timely and address all of the trustee's questions, the trustee will typically excuse the debtor from attendance at the adjourned meeting.