Written by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
Everyone who files for personal bankruptcy must produce identification. You are not required to produce identification at the time of filing, but at the meeting of creditors which occurs one month later. However, any experienced bankruptcy attorney will want to see that ID from the outset.
The Office of the United States Trustee adopted a policy in 2002 in which individuals are required to identify themselves with picture identification (typically a driver’s license) and proof of correct Social Security number (typically a Social Security card).
However, other forms of proof are acceptable as well. According to instructions about identification issued by the Office of the United States Trustee , Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 trustees should also accept the following items as acceptable forms of photographic identification: passport, legal resident alien card, military identification, or state-issued photo identification card.
Satisfactory proof of Social Security number can be also demonstrated with the following documents as long as they contain the full Social Security number and full name of the debtor: pay stub, health care card, any correspondence from the Social Security Administration, or a current W-2.
I’ve actually attended hearings in which I observed some local trustees in the Central Islip Courthouse being unaware that a debtor can furnish proof of Social Security number with some of the above documents. Hopefully all of the trustees have become aware of the U.S. Trustee’s policies by now.
If the debtor does not have photo identification and proof of Social Security number with them when they appear before the trustee at the meeting of creditors, the trustee can refuse to examine them.
In my practice, I require all clients to provide me with their driver’s license and Social Security card at the initial intake. I then make a legible photocopy and place it in the file. On numerous occasions these copies have saved the day when the client forgot to bring their ID to the court. Also, by reviewing the debtor’s identification early on, I have time to enable the debtor to obtain satisfactory identification there is a problem with it.