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Improving Uniformity of Practice Through FRBP 4002(b)

Posted by Tiffany Sanders, J.D. on March 27th, 2018

This is the final post in a 7-part series describing UpRight’s recommendations to the ABI Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy. Start at the beginning.

Section 341 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code sets forth the specific documentation that a debtor must provide at the meeting of creditors, also known as the “341 hearing.” This documentation includes:

  • documentation of current income, such as the most recent paycheck stub
  • statements for any and all depository and investment accounts (unless otherwise instructed by the trustee)
  • documentation of monthly expenses, if required by Section 707(b)(2)(A)
  • most recent tax return

However, in many districts across the country, trustees require substantially more documentation. In many jurisdictions, local rules also mandate the production of additional documentation. Some trustees also require completion of a questionnaire in advance of the meeting of creditors.

In a national consumer bankruptcy system, this is impractical. From the consumer perspective, a debtor in one jurisdiction may be subject to much more stringent document production rules than a similarly-situated debtor in the next district. From the perspective of a bankruptcy attorney practicing in multiple jurisdictions–or even subject to differing demands from different trustees within the same jurisdiction–is unduly burdensome.

While the current requirements under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 4002(b) are inadequate, debtors and their counsel should also not be subject to widely varied and subjective requirements depending on the district where the case is filed and the trustee appointed. The rule should be amended to expand, but make uniform, the documentation a debtor must produce at the meeting of creditors. Should additional information be necessary in a specific case, the trustee should have the option of pursuing such documentation under Bankruptcy Rule 2004.

The last public meeting will be held on April 20 at the ABI’s Annual Spring Meeting in Washington D.C., and the Commission’s final report will be delivered in December, 2018. If you’re interested in sharing your thoughts, you can learn more about the Commission on the ABI website. 

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