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341 - Better than Reality TV

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  • 341 - Better than Reality TV

    So I've been meaning to write about my recent 341 experience... here goes:

    (warning: long post)

    Tip number one: For the love of God, know where you're going! As prepared as I was for the actual 341, I didn't heed the advice offered here on the forum about doing a trial run. I thought looking at the area on a google map would be enough. Wrong. The area was very confusing and it was hard to find a place to park. Very stressful.

    Tip number two: allow yourself plenty of time to get to the meeting. Fortunately for me, following this tip helped save my butt when I didn't follow tip number one.

    Tip number three: don't under-estimate the trustee. He/She is a finely tuned instrument of financial dissection. I really liked the trustee in my case. She was really smart and nothing seemed to get by her. She varied her questions. It was like she could sniff out a weak spot no matter where it was. In all of it, she was professional and was willing to put people at ease (many of the people didn't want to be at ease - some were even a bit rude... probably nervousness). Like I said, I really liked her. And I'm sure glad I didn't have anything to hide.

    The actual meeting:

    People trickled into the waiting area looking dazed and confused. The location had recently changed and even lawyers were a bit unsure about where to go. Of course, the signage was horrible and we all spent some time wandering around the building trying to figure out where we were supposed to be. But once we got there, we found an outer-room with tables and chairs for people to talk with their attorneys before going into the hearing room. The hearing room itself was smallish with a couple of desks at the front of the room for the trustee, clerk, and the people being grilled. There were five or six rows of chairs for people waiting to be called. I had the pleasure of sitting next to an older woman who literally prayed (out loud) the whole time she was waiting to be called. We had talked earlier and she was a cool lady. I was hoping that after an hour of praying maybe some of the benefit of those prayers would spill over to the rest of us.

    The hearings were running about an hour late. The trustee seemed to get a bit grouchy as the hearings dragged on. At one point she admonished all of the attorneys in the room to get their acts together and make sure their clients were prepared with their paperwork. This seemed odd because 1.) the attorneys who had unprepared clients who caused the logjam were already gone and 2.) it didn't appear that missing paperwork was the problem. One after another, it appeared people were just doing stupid things that caused the trustee to look more closely at their filings and then the fireworks started. More on that in a moment. Some of the people who were there were grilled for more than half an hour. I didn't see any that were under 10 minutes. There were no creditors present for any of the hearings. Everyone I saw was going through chapter 7... no 13s, although one guy probably knocked himself into one.

    When we first went into the room, a man was being grilled about his financial statements. His case was complicated. He'd sold a business, kept a second business, gone through a divorce, and had rental properties. He was keeping some of the properties and letting some go. She asked him about each property. He managed to undervalue his vehicle by about $10k, but he was claiming it as a tool of the trade (for his active business and supposedly his only source of income) and it was still within the state's exemptions. The trustee questioned the fact that the man's business had paid him less than $4k ytd. It kind of appeared like the second business wasn't really viable but he was using it to shield assets. Then the trustee blasted the guy's paperwork. He somehow managed to include the costs for all of his rental properties (including those which he'd already stated he did not intend to keep) yet failed to note any of the income on his schedules. Woops. She very kindly told his attorney to revise the paperwork and get it resubmitted asap. Then she indicated the US Trustee would be involved. With the inclusion of the rental income, the guy apparently fails his means test and the likelihood of tripping into a 13 is pretty high. It took forever to get through his items, but it was TV worth watching. It was interesting how she asked him so many questions and got so many responses on tape before letting him know about the US Trustee and the need to revisit the means test.

    Following him was a woman who had gotten a $3500 tax refund 4 days before she filed. As of the filing date, she indicated none of it was left. The lady seemed to have no recollection of how she spent $3500 less than 40 days ago, other than paying her lawyer for the bankruptcy, which was already on record as being distinctly less than $3500. Woops. Naturally the trustee was interested in an itemized breakdown of how the refund was spent. And receipts.

    Following her was another lady who, when asked how she was making ends meet, noted that her live-in fiancee (of eight years) was paying all of her expenses. That led to questions about the title on the house (it was in her name) and why the fiancee was living there and making payments on it but was not included in the household income calculations. Not only will the trustee now be taking a closer look at the house title, the lady and her lawyer were advised to revisit the means test and schedules I/J. Woops.

    And then the next guy who came along failed to note that he had also received a tax refund right before filing. And in a very strange and highly unlikely coincidence, the bank statement that he handed to the trustee just happened to be missing the page that showed the automatic deposit of the refund. I guess he forgot that he'd already provided her a copy of his filed taxes. Woops.

    Following him was a guy whose bank statement showed he'd pulled out $400 from his bank account prior to filing his BK. But his paperwork only noted $20 in cash. The trustee wanted to know where that money went. As he stammered out a response, he happened to mention that he'd used some of the money to pay back an unsecured loan to someone he knew. A loan that wasn't listed on his paperwork. Woops.

    Then the praying lady went up and her hearing was really straightforward. Except for the fact that she forgot to list a car that she owned as an asset. Apparently it didn't have an engine, so I guess I could see how it might be overlooked. The value of the car was still within the state's exemptions, so she was asked to ammend her paperwork and sent on her way.

    Then it was my turn. It went very well. The questions were pretty standard, with some additional attention paid to how I've isolated monies received for SSDI in bank accounts to avoid co-mingling with non-exempt funds. I'm pretty sure that in the span of two hours, mine was the shortest Q&A of all. My attorney was great.

    Which brings me to tip number four: Use this forum as a tool. Most of the people I saw today made mistakes that could've easily been avoided if they'd just been smarter about the whole process. None of them appeared to have the support of a group to bounce ideas around. I'm sure their attorneys were good, but mistakes were still made, possibly because people hadn't disclosed some of these things. There is such a wealth of info on this forum that it makes it almost impossible to trip over the easy stuff... it would be crazy to not take advantage of the knowledge & experiences that have been posted.

    Thanks to everyone for the info you've shared. It makes a huge difference.
    OK - from now on it's not a "Bankruptcy." It's a "Weight Loss Program." I'm in. Sign me up.

  • #2
    Peeps. What a great read. Wasn't it sooo great not to have a "woops" after yours.

    With all of the 341's i watched. Probably 3 days worth over a period of a couple of months. I saw soooo many mistakes that wouldn't have happened if people had found this forum.

    Congrats to you and that is one HUGE step finished.
    Wishing you a speedy 60 days.

    Just thinking about your title. reality tv.
    Hummm there could be a show called.....Bankruptcy Swap. A bankrupt person could switch places with ...ah lets see......never mind, i think i like it right where i am.
    Last edited by oregonpilot; 03-11-2011, 01:29 AM.
    filed: 8/10 ...341:10/8/10 ... Discharged & Close: 12/9/10
    "Nothing is easy to the unwilling" Thomas Fuller

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    • #3
      Originally posted by oregonpilot View Post
      Wasn't it sooo great not to have a "woops" after yours.
      Oh, well, there WAS a woops on mine, too... but my attorney and I caught it before the 341 started and we were able to proactively point out the issue. It was just a paperwork thing that the trustee probably would have never cared about since it didn't really change anything. She seemed to appreciate that we caught it and the whole issue was pretty much dropped after that. Boring stuff (thankfully).


      I dunno, "Bankruptcy Island" has a nice ring to it. The last survivor wins a 100% exempt cash prize.
      OK - from now on it's not a "Bankruptcy." It's a "Weight Loss Program." I'm in. Sign me up.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the write-up---Peeps---and I know that
        I would have been lost and highly uninformed---without this forum---even with an attorney.

        Comment


        • #5
          Wow, you did great. I truly believe that there is no way anyone could learn the ins and outs of bankruptcy only talking with a lawyer. In all, my lawyer may have spent 2 hours with me, and that was mostly 1 hour the first meeting to decide which way to go ( 7 or 13) and one hour for signing after they had sent me all of the paper work to go over. And I was the one who filled out all of the paperwork to begin with and then sent it to the para legal to put on there forms, proof it when it came back and fix the mistakes she made in transferring the information.

          It was due to finding this board and reading for days on end that I was comfortable making the decisions we made, and knowing the answers to any questions we had.

          These boards rock, and are worth more than money could ever buy.
          Hired Attorney 8/28/10 Filed Chapter 7 11/08/10 341 12/14/2010 Report of NO DISTRIBUTION 12/15/2010 Waiting for February 14 2011, date objections due.
          DISCHARGED and CLOSED 2/15/2011

          Comment


          • #6
            holly cow peeps....what an experience.......and it was a GREAT short story...i think you should send it in to money mag. and see if they will pay you for it...LOL!!!!
            8/4/2008 MAKE SURE AND VISIT Tobee's Blogs! http://www.bkforum.com/blog.php?32727-tobee43 and all are welcome to bk forum's Florida State Questions and Answers on BK http://www.bkforum.com/group.php?groupid=9

            Comment


            • #7
              Whoops moments can happen. I thought that everything was correct in my thousands of pages of documentation, however a few days before my 341, I found 3 minor things that had been omitted. Spoke with my attorney about them and he said "no problem, just tell the trustee".

              At the 341, I brought these things up to the trustee and was told thank you, but they really don't effect your estate so we won't worry about them....... but I appreciate your honesty.

              The bottom line? TELL THE TRUTH, even if it hurts. There will be no problems....

              Congratulations Peeps.
              All information contained in this post is for informational and amusement purposes only.
              Bankruptcy is a process, not an event.......

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by frogger View Post
                Whoops moments can happen. I thought that everything was correct in my thousands of pages of documentation, however a few days before my 341, I found 3 minor things that had been omitted. Spoke with my attorney about them and he said "no problem, just tell the trustee".

                At the 341, I brought these things up to the trustee and was told thank you, but they really don't effect your estate so we won't worry about them....... but I appreciate your honesty.

                The bottom line? TELL THE TRUTH, even if it hurts. There will be no problems....

                Congratulations Peeps.
                you know frogger, that is the best advise anyone can give .....really even applying to life period...the truth NEVER changes....NEVER...but you have to remember lies and it can get you into a mess...and come back to haunt you when you least expect it.

                truth always wins hands down...
                8/4/2008 MAKE SURE AND VISIT Tobee's Blogs! http://www.bkforum.com/blog.php?32727-tobee43 and all are welcome to bk forum's Florida State Questions and Answers on BK http://www.bkforum.com/group.php?groupid=9

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thank you Peeps! I don't know what I would have done without this forum and I love the report you gave. My 341 is April 1st. When I finally decided to file for bk, I took most of my money out of the bank and was just hiding it around my house. When the cash in hand question came up at the lawyers office, I said that I had 1200 at home. The paralegal said, "We're going to exempt that so you do not have to claim it." After I went home I emailed the law clerk who is working with my attorney (I'd met with the paralegal to go over the paperwork) and said I was VERY uncomfortable not claiming the money and even if they took it, I wanted it on the petition." I think she was surprised that the paralegal had even suggested it and emiled back that it would be included.

                  After reading your 'story', I am so glad I stuck to my guns about that. Yes, it will more than likely be exempted, BUT, anyone who looks at my bank statements can see I took it out of the bank and I can truthfully tell the Trustee that I have most of it and have only spent a small portion, (about 200) since I took it out.

                  As I told the attorney, I don't care if they take it - I just want to be free of my debts and do not want to take any chances on screwing it up.

                  You really made my day by giving us a run-through. Thank you, thank you. I hope to be totally prepared for the 341 and all this info really helps.
                  Last edited by discouraged; 03-11-2011, 01:31 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Congrats, Peeps, on your 341, and thanks for sharing your experience!

                    I couldn't agree more that it was this forum that made it possible for us to make it through our bk with our sanity! We learned more here than anywhere else, and sometimes it just helps knowing you have the support of countless others who know exactly what you are going through.

                    PS - LOVE "Bankruptcy Island"!
                    Filed Ch 7 Sept '10, 341 Meeting Oct '10, Discharged Dec '10, Case Closed Jan '11

                    EQ 2/8/11 - 584, 6/2/11 - 677

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by discouraged View Post
                      As I told the attorney, I don't care if they take it - I just want to be free of my debts and do not want to take any chances on screwing it up.
                      That's the key right there. Why take chances by lying when it could create all kinds of problems, from fraud to debt not being able to be discharged?

                      My bk cost me some out of pocket money, but in the grand perspective of things, it cost me .00514285714% of the debt that I discharged.

                      What a bargain!!!
                      All information contained in this post is for informational and amusement purposes only.
                      Bankruptcy is a process, not an event.......

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Very well written, and explained Peeps! Thanks for taking the time to write this all out, I am sure it will help many others.

                        Glad your 341 is done and over!
                        8-07-09-filed Chapter 7
                        11-18-09-DISCHARGED!!

                        Life is not what challenges you face, but how you face those challenges.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Rats, tobee took the words about short story right out of my mouth...
                          Great writing, excellent Cautionary Tale and superb recommendation for this site. Too bad everyone doesn't do their homework...

                          Auditions for Bankruptcy Island start next week-
                          actually not a bad idea!!!

                          Keep On Smilin'

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by keepsmiling View Post
                            Rats, tobee took the words about short story right out of my mouth...
                            Great writing, excellent Cautionary Tale and superb recommendation for this site. Too bad everyone doesn't do their homework...

                            Auditions for Bankruptcy Island start next week-
                            actually not a bad idea!!!
                            ROFL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bankrupcy Island!!!!!!!!!!!! ....shoot i don't want to be Russel!

                            discouraged...really april 1 st?????
                            8/4/2008 MAKE SURE AND VISIT Tobee's Blogs! http://www.bkforum.com/blog.php?32727-tobee43 and all are welcome to bk forum's Florida State Questions and Answers on BK http://www.bkforum.com/group.php?groupid=9

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Tobee - Yes and they specified THIS IS NOT AN APRIL FOOLS JOKE. Sounds kinda unlucky though, doesn't it? One of the reasons I treasure Peeps post. Will have to work harder to be prepared, lol.

                              Comment

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