By Bankruptcy Info Blog | October 13, 2014 at 11:56 AM EDT | No Comments
My usual stomping ground for trustee’s meetings is downtown Chicago. I often attend meetings in Lake County and Du Page County and I have even been out to Rockford a time or two. But last week I attended my first bankruptcy trustee’s meeting in Joliet – that’s in Will County.
Before I even attended the meeting I received an email from an attorney asking if he could attend the meeting in my place for a nominal fee of only $100. It seems that many attorneys don’t want the bother of going all the way to Joliet. I don’t know … I guess it’s not cost effective. I sent a polite “no thank you” email. My clients are usually stressed enough. I would never ask them to meet a stranger at a time like that.
Unlike Cook County, in Will County the meetings are not behind closed doors so everyone gets to listen in on every meeting taking place. Most meetings went smoothly but there were a few cases that experienced some bumps. One meeting was a disaster.
In a couple meetings the trustee was annoyed because documents had not been delivered prior to the meeting. In one case the attorney handed the documents to the trustee so we all sat there quietly while the trustee reviewed paycheck stubs and income tax returns. This is something the trustee usually does prior to the meeting to move things along. In the other case the attorney did not have the documents with him. I wondered whether this was one of the cases with a hired substitute attorney.
In one case the debtor had a claim for $80,000. against someone but had no money to continue the lawsuit. The trustee might take over the lawsuit. If he is successful the creditors would be paid and the debtor would receive the balance of funds, if any. That would be a wonderful outcome.
Then there was the disaster! … The debtor’s answers to the trustee’s questions were so bizarre. He testified that his house was worth $400,000. and that he owed only $200,000. on it. The trustee pounced on that statement. Finally the debtor’s attorney stepped in and said “The debtor is not in his right mind. He is giving answers that are not right.” He went on to say the debtor was waiting for an operation and was heavily sedated. The trustee wanted to continue the meeting to a different date but the attorney inexplicably wanted his client to continue answering questions. The trustee said “You just said your client is not in his right mind. How can I continue?” So the case was given a 2 month continuance. I hope they can get their act together for the next meeting or the debtor will lose his home.
The other strange thing about the creditor’s meetings was that the trustee asked each attorney how much he charged the debtor for handling their bankruptcy. Usually the trustee just asks if all fees have been paid. My fees are very reasonable so I didn’t mind letting everyone know what I charge. But one attorney had 6 cases and the fees he charged ranged between $1,600. to $2,400. per case. I personally think that’s outrageous! Maybe those fees would be okay for a Chapter 13 – but not for a Chapter 7. I wonder how his clients felt when they realized they paid hundreds of dollars more than everyone else. The moral here is to always check around when pricing ANYTHING.
Thus ended my trip to Joliet. It was really a “different” experience.