Q: I filed for Ch. 7 in the middle of a month. At the beginning of that month, I got a $2000/year raise, but filed
with the income figure from the month before. My attorney says that we do not need to file amended prior to the 341 meeting and we will address it at the meeting. Do you agreee with this assessment?
A: I agree with your attorney's assessment, assuming, of course, that you make this disclosure at the 341 meeting. Following the meeting, there may be other matters to address by amendment, so it makes sense to address them all in a single amendment.
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A: Once you have filed a case with retained legal counsel, it really is not appropriate for another attorney to "second guess" your lawyer since the lawyer should be the person who has spent the most time analyzing your information and becoming familiar with your situation, etc. That being said, in the Southern District of Alabama it is customary in a situation such as the one you describe for the Debtor through counsel to file all the necessary schedule amendments that may arise just after the 341 meeting. The Alabama bankruptcy courts are not part of the U.S. Trustee system used in 48 other states. We have a Bankruptcy Administrator employed by the U.S. District Court to oversee the bankruptcy process in the District. The Bankruptcy Administrator provides legal counsel at the 341 meeting to oversee each case, and to run the meeting of creditors. This, in my opinion, is a superior system to that of the U.S. Trustee System because the Bankruptcy Administrator Attorney acts as a neutral party between the Debtor attorney and the Chapter 7 Trustee. This alleviates all kinds of problems, usually petty issues that arise between two lawyers that are constantly dealing with one another on contested cases. Scheduling of the Meeting of Creditors is determined by the Bankruptcy Administrator's office, as well as followup for schedule amendments. This means that in the Alabama Bankruptcy Courts the Debtors are not pushed around by the Ch 7 trustee with threats of multiple court appearances ( such as Rule 2004 exams, which are sort of like mini depositions at the Trustee's law office). You should feel like you trust your attorney, and feel confident that he or she is providing you with the best advice. Signs of a good bankruptcy lawyer include having competent staff, good followup with you by phone, email or text when you have questions, and responsiveness to the Bankruptcy Court and Ch 7 Trustee, so that your case moves to a conclusion. If your lawyer is not returning your phone calls or answering your emails, has not shown up for court or is extremely late, or just generally not prepared ever, you may need to consider hiring another attorney.
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