After we file your bankruptcy petition you must attend a hearing.
The location of the hearings for San Diego cases is the Emerald Plaza Building at 402 W. Broadway Suite 660. Just come up to the 6th floor and you’ll see the waiting room for the hearing room. Have a seat in the waiting room. There will probably be another 20 or so people in the waiting room waiting for their hearing time.
Parking is very expensive so you might want to park at a meter. (I always do.)
This is very important: Be sure to use the C Street entrance on the north side of the building (otherwise you will wind up in the hotel). Years ago the first time I went to one of these bankruptcy hearings I entered from Broadway. I got on the elevator and when I got off all I saw were hotel rooms. I took the elevator back down to the lobby and had to ask the guard who chuckled and told me I had to go outside the building and walk around to the C Street entrance.
You need to bring a government-issued photo ID (your driver’s license). You also need to bring proof of your social security number. Most people bring their social security card. It must the original. A copy will not be accepted. But, if you can’t find it, you can also bring a W-2 or W-4 with your Social Security number on it. For some reason, they accept copies of those. you fail to bring proof of your social security number the trustee will not conduct the hearing.
Please arrive at the hearing a ½ hour before the scheduled time. We will meet in the room outside of the hearing room. There will be perhaps another 20 people there, also meeting with their attorneys. You can give me your ID, social security card and questionnaire which I can hand to the trustee.
You also need to fill out a questionnaire that is around 5 pages long. I always try to send a blank questionnaire to my clients before the hearing so it can be filled out beforehand. There is an information sheet you are supposed to read before the hearing. I will send that to you also.
When the time for your hearing arrives everybody that is sitting in the waiting room walks into the actual hearing room. You will have a seat. Take a seat in the front so you can observe what questions the other people are being asked and how they respond.
Each case will be called one by one. But before the trustee starts calling the cases he will tell everybody to have their driver’s licenses and social security cards out and in their hands. The trustees have a lot of cases to get through each hour. If you slow him down by fumbling around looking for your drivers license and social security card he’ll be irritated and probably tell you to sit back down and put your case at the end of the line.
Each hearing usually only lasts a few minutes. But we never know how long it will take the trustee to get to our case. Most trustees work through all their cases scheduled for a given 1-hour time slot during that hour time slot. For example, if your case is set for 9:00, chances are that your trustee will get through all the 9:00 cases between 9:00 and 10:00. But sometimes they run behind. (When we are assigned our trustee I can tell you if our trustee is one that is usually on time or one that often falls behind.)
So sometimes we are there for hours. Usually, however, we are in and out in less than an hour.
Before the hearing, I will talk to you about what questions I expect the trustee to ask you. The trustee will always ask you if you have read, understood and signed the papers. He will ask you if you have read the Bankruptcy Information Sheet. He will ask you if you filled out the 5-page form mentioned above. He will ask you if there are any changes you would like to make. He will ask you if everything is correct. Please use your common sense to answer those questions.
In most cases, there are some particular issues the trustee will ask about. I try to warn you in advance about those issues so that you are already prepared with your answer.
Before the hearing, I always try to supply the trustee with all the documents I think we need to support our case. For example, we need to show the value of your home and how much you owe on it.
On occasion, the trustee will ask for additional documentation. Sometimes he will ask me to make a change in your bankruptcy petition or schedules and return for a second meeting in 3 or 4 weeks. Most often the trustee will tell us that if I supply the necessary document or make the requested change then we don’t have to attend that additional hearing.
Once in a great while, a creditor will show up. If the creditor is a non-institutional creditor, for example, a tradesman that has a claim, he might try to ask inappropriate questions or even attempt to harass you at the hearing. I will be there to protect your interests.
Once we conclude the hearing, in most cases, your bankruptcy is complete.
In 60 days you receive a letter from the Court saying your discharge has been granted and your case is closed.
But there is one thing you need to do before your case can be over: You need to complete your course in Financial Management. There is a requirement that you complete a post-petition instructional course concerning personal financial management. You may do this with the same company that you used for the pre-petition credit counseling. You should not wait to do this. I like to have it completed before the hearing.
After you complete the course please send me the certificate of completion. I will then send you the form B23 for your signature. After you sign B23 I will file the papers with the bankruptcy court.
Once in a while, my client fails to do the Financial Management Course. If you don’t to the course and it comes time for your case to close the Court will close your case without the discharge. We then have to file a motion to reopen your case to give us the opportunity to file proof of the late completion of the financial management course. The Court charges $260 to reopen the case.
My strong preference is to have the Financial Management Course completed before the hearing date.
Here’s an excellent site written by another attorney (Mr. Daltry) that has everything you could possibly want to know about what will happen at your San Diego 341a hearing: