3 7. If a creditor requests a copy ofthe tax return at least 15 days before the meeting ofcreditors, the debtor(s) must provide a copy to that creditor at least 7 days before the meeting. 8. At the meeting ofcreditors, debtors must provide two forms of identification: a photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, and a proofof social security number (social security card, correspondence from the Social Security Administration, IRS form W‐2 or 1099). Corporate debtors must provide proofof ID as well as proof that the person appearing at the Meeting of Creditors has the authority to appear. 9. All debtors must attend the meeting ofcreditors and be examined under oath by the trustee. Creditors are invited to attend this meeting. 10. All debtors must cooperate with the trustee and respond to all reasonable requests forinformation and documents. 11. Within 45 days after the first scheduled date ofthe meeting ofcreditors, all consumer debtors must complete a Financial Management course approved by the Office ofthe United States Trustee and file a certificate of completion with the Court. This requirement does not apply to corporations or businesses. A CREDITOR’S OBLIGATIONS WHEN A PERSON FILES A BANKRUPTCY PETITION Immediately upon the filing ofthebankruptcy petition, an automatic stay is imposed. The scope of that stay is described in detail in § 362 ofthe Bankruptcy Code. All collection activity must cease. For example, if you are involved in a civil lawsuit with the debtor, the case may not proceed without Bankruptcy Court approval or “relief” from the stay. There are some limitations on the stay, and those limitations are also found in § 362 ofthe Bankruptcy Code. LIMITED STAY/NO STAY Section 362(c)(3), (4) limits the stay for debtors who have filed bankruptcy before. If a debtor has had a pending bankruptcy caseinthe 12‐month period prior to the filing ofthe new case, the stay will enter upon filing ofthe new case. However, the stay will extinguish 30 days after the filing ofthe new case unless the debtor files a motion to extend the stay and that motion is filed, and heard withinthe 30 day period. If a debtor has had two (2) cases pending inthe 12‐month period prior to the filing ofthe new case, no stay will take effect upon the filing ofthe new caseinthe absence of an order from the Bankruptcy Court.
4 Since there can be consequences for violating the stay, it is strongly recommended that you confer with counsel before taking any action against a debtor, the debtor’s property (and in some cases, the co‐debtor) without first seeking appropriate relief from the Bankruptcy Court. RELIEF FROM STAY A creditor is permitted to seek relief from the automatic stay. Section 362 describes the circumstances that a creditor may seek relief from the stay, and the Rules describe theprocedural mechanisms that thecreditor must use to seek relief from the stay. Motions for Relief from Stay must be accompanied by the appropriate filing fee and filed with the Clerk. The motion must also be accompanied with a Certificate of Service reflecting the date and method by which the motion was served on the appropriate parties. See Local Rule 4001‐1 for additional information on Motions for Relief from Stay. VIOLATIONS OF THE STAY A creditor who, despite knowing about the filing ofthebankruptcy case, continues to engage in collection activity risks being found in violation ofthe stay. This might result in damages, costs and fees being assessed against thecreditor. A creditor need not have official notice from the Bankruptcy Court that a bankruptcy case has been commenced to be aware ofthebankruptcy. In fact, if a debtor verbally informs thecreditor that a case has been commenced, that may be sufficient to find that any subsequent collection action was a knowing and intentional violation ofthe stay. If you have any questions or concerns about whether an activity might be considered a violation ofthe automatic stay, you are strongly urged to confer with competent counsel. DISCHARGE Assuming the debtor receives a discharge, the discharge permanently bars thecreditor from collection ofthe debt. ATTORNEYS WORKING WITH PROFESSIONALS You may work with an attorney who can give you specific legal advice and guidance, tailored to your situation. To lawfully practice law inthe U.S. Bankruptcy Court fortheDistrictof Massachusetts, the attorney must be a member in good standing ofthe bar ofthe U.S. District Court fortheDistrictof Massachusetts. In order to be a member ofthe bar of