I Filed Chapter 7 - Still Going Through It
I've always had great credit and never had a late payment on anything. I was afraid of payments getting to the creditors even one day late. I was with the same company for 15 years. I got my MBA the last two years I was with the company. At that point, I decided to start my own business. Over the next 5 years I put all of my savings, home equity and retirement savings into the business. I was just turning a profit last year when the economy (particularly my segment in the market) went sour. In 6 short months, I had to declare bankruptcy. And because my business debt was guaranteed by the business and me personally...I'm losing everything.
But that's the risk I took and accepted. The problem I'm having is with how the bankruptcy Trustee is handling things. In the creditors meeting, he asked leading and vague questions in order to get the "incorrect" or "possibly incorrect answers". He refused to answer any questions from me. In fact, he refused to let me ask any questions to clarify my understanding of his questions. He used this one way interrogation to justify further investigation. Now, instead of three months, I'm looking at six months. In the meantime, I can't use my old credit cards and can't apply for new ones (not for spending, for renting a car for business travel). In addition, the banks closed my accounts, and I can't open another one until the bankruptcy is resolved. Also, he got an order to appraise my personal assets since he thought my estimates were "low". So, when I move out I either have to leave all my possessions in an abandoned house, or go to the expense of moving everything and then have the appraiser over value everything and the trustee takes it and sells it. If I stay, I have to pay an outrageous rent directly to the trustee.
So, that's where I'm at. Anyone else going through a chapter 7, here's my advice.
1) Get an appraiser for your home and all your personal belongings BEFORE filing.
2) After stating your name during the creditors meeting, stop the trustee in his tracks and ask him if can are allowed to ask him rephrase or be more specific in his questions to insure you can give a COMPLETE response. If he cuts you off or says no...stop the meeting and walk out. File a motion with the Judge.
3) Do not let the trustee intimidate you. Yes, you feel bad. Yes, you feel like scum. And yes, the trustee will use that to his advantage.
4) While the trustee is certainly interested in finding abuses, his main interest is getting paid. If he can justify further investigation, he and his friends get paid more. Make no mistake, the trustee is there for HIS interest, not the creditors.
5) The trustee will do everything they can to drag things out. The longer things go, the more pressure people put themselves under, the more likely they are too concede the value of possessions that the trustee wants. All he has to do is drag things out. It costs him nothing.
Hope this helps someone out there. I will update as the saga continues.