Bankruptcy Hearings: Now Telephonic
The Alexandria Bankruptcy Court Trustee Hearings are now by Telephone.
Bankruptcy Trustee hearings are now telephonic. That’s the policy of the Alexandria VA bankruptcy court, effective April 9, 2020. (Richmond and Norfolk, too.)
People who file bankruptcy are required by law to “appear” in front of the bankruptcy trustee to answer questions. (For most people, the questions are, “Did you go over these papers when you signed them, and is everything you put there true?”) Those hearings by law are between four and six weeks after we send your papers to the court.
Starting now, you and I will appear by phone. (Some parts of the bankruptcy court have moved to Zoom, but NOT this. This basic hearing is on a telephone conference call.)
The trustee does about a dozen hearings per hour; and everybody will call in the same phone number. So you and I will be listening in on the hearings for every other person that hour. (This is the same as it would be if we were all sitting in the hearing room together.)
Mute your phone. When you call in, don’t say “Am I on? Am I on?” You’re on an open mic to the whole room. If you talk when it’s not your turn, you are interrupting the bankruptcy trustee. (You don’t want the trustee to be grumpy when it’s your turn.)
The trustee is supposed to check your ID and social security number. On the phone there’s no way they can match your picture. But having an ID that matches the name on the bankruptcy papers at least proves something. So take a picture, or scan, of your ID and social security card. [email protected] will send you a link.
We Will Talk Privately Before and After
You and I will have a call-in a Saturday before scheduled time. To go over what’s going to happen. And make sure you are ready to call in.
On the day of, I’ll email you about ten minutes before; to make sure you are there; and cover any last minute jitters. Afterwards, I send an email wrap-up. And set a time for a call later in the day to handle any follow up questions you have, or action items that came out of the hearing. Those calls will only be between us.
I’ll be looking at my email during the hearing, so if you want to whisper me a question, do it by email. Use [email protected]. That’s the email I’ll be watching. (It gets to me 45 second quicker than [email protected])
Here are documents you should get
The Notice of a Bankruptcy case comes to you in the mail about a week after the papers go in. It tells when when your telephonic “appearance” is. It’s also a notice to the people you owe money to that they are required to leave you alone. And that anybody who is garnishing you has to stop.
Your Order to debtor tells you that you are required to show up for the telephonic appearance. And that if somebody dies and leave you money in the next six months, the bankruptcy trustee can come and get it. You get this in the mail with the Notice of a Bankruptcy Case.
Here’s stuff you need to look at before your telephonic bankruptcy hearing
The Bankruptcy information sheet is a form I’m required to give you. Congress really wants you to know you have four choices under the bankruptcy law. Chapter 12 is only for farmers (and fishermen.) I’ve never done a farmer. Chapter 11 is for people like Donald Trump. I’ve never done Donald Trump. Chapter 13 is a payment plan through the court. Chapter 13 can get you five years to catch up your house or pay off your taxes, You can also be forced into Chapter 13 if you are making too much money to get approved for Chapter 7.
Chapter 7 says ‘sorry I can’t pay these debts.’ For most people that’s what we want.
This Hearing Info is from me. It explains that you need to get us bank statements that cover the date your bankruptcy was filed. For ALL your bank accounts including the ones “I never use.” It also lists the questions they usually ask.
Finally here’s my 15 minute video
Ignore the parts about where to go and where to park–these are telephonic bankruptcy hearings, remember. But the other stuff is still right. PS Actually one other correction. We use Moneysharp.org for the required class. (The video mentions Hummingbird. They stopped covering Virginia.)
UPDATE Zoom is Coming
Zoom will replace telephone calls for bankruptcy court trustee hearings. At the end of the pandemic, the government will NOT resume in person bankruptcy trustee hearings. Instead the system will switch over to using zoom, in place of telephone conference calls.
No word yet how fast this will happen.