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  • Robert Weed

What to Expect At Your Telephonic Bankruptcy Hearing

You can imagine that you are in a dark room with 20 strangers and twelve lawyers and everybody has a microphone. Anything you say is broadcast to the entire room. That's how it feels when you dial in to your Alexandria Bankruptcy Court telephonic hearing. You want to know that I'm there, and I want to know that you're there, and we can't see each other. We also can't say anything without interrupting what's going on. So, I'll email you about ten minutes before we are scheduled to start.  Please reply. That would be a good time for any last minute questions. When you call in to the hearing, have your phone on mute.  Background noise from crying children or barking dogs, from thirty people, would make it impossible for anybody to hear the questions and answers. (The Supreme Court did a hearing by phone in late May, and the whole world heard the sound of a flushing toilet.)

Nobody is Asking How Did You Get into So Much Debt?

Remember that nobody is asking "how did you get into this?"  For businesses, they have to ask that question, but not for you. There are three things that they are trying to accomplish at your "appearance." First, they want to make sure that you are you.   When we did these in person, the trustee would at least pretend to see if the picture on the license looked like you. Now that it's telephonic, we send them in in advance.  (Yours are in.)  I'm supposed to say I think it's really you, and so I say that.

(Why do they need to see your Social Security card? Your credit report is based on your Social Security number. Sometimes people ask, is my passport ok? No, your Social Security number is NOT on your passport.) Second they want to confirm that you went over the papers we sent in and they are right. Sometimes you get asked versions of that one question seven ways. Did you go over the papers before you signed them? Did you sign them?

Do you know what's in them? Did you list all your debts? Did you list all your assets? Is everything else correct? Are there any changes? Getting asked that same question seven ways is annoying, but the answers aren't hard. Finally, they want to know that you had less than $5000 in the bank.  (H&W can have $10,000.)  So they ask if the bank statements we sent in are the only bank accounts you have. That's it. Afterwards, I'll send a follow up email and take any questions.

When you call in, it feels like a dark room, with twenty strangers and a dozen lawyers.

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