The meeting of creditors or 341 meeting is a hearing that is held after a debtor files for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, both of which pertain to consumer bankruptcy in the bankruptcy code. At the meeting, a bankruptcy trustee will ask the bankrupt filer a series of questions related to the bankruptcy case.
The Trustee in a Bankruptcy
Trustees are lawyers who represent the interests of the creditors who are owed unsecured debts. Their job is to ensure that the bankruptcy information provided in the bankruptcy petition is truthful. For Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, the main interest is finding out if there are non-exempt assets that the filers own and can use for liquidation for the creditors’ benefit. They make sure that certain assets weren’t forgotten to be included in the list. For Chapter 13 filings, the meeting is focused on the debtors’ disposable income and how much they can pay in the duration of their bankruptcy term.
Meeting Venue and Date
The meeting takes place 20 to 40 days after the case is filed with the bankruptcy court. The hearing schedule is generated by a computer system upon the filing for bankruptcy. Meetings of creditors take place in a meeting room assigned by the court, depending on the county wherein the filer resides. It’s important to take note that filers need to take an online education course prior to the meeting.
During the Meeting
The bankruptcy attorney may meet with the filer before the meeting or they could simply meet at the venue. Waiting for a turn could take anywhere to mere minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, the meeting itself, which mainly consists of the debtor being interviewed under oath, may take but five minutes.
Despite the name, creditors very rarely attend the meeting. In case one does, he or she will be given the opportunity to ask questions that are relevant to the case.
Bankruptcy petitioners ought to bring the following documents:
- Driver’s license
- Social security card or a W-2
- Bank statements from all accounts, showing their balances on the day of filing
After the meeting
The creditors’ meeting is nothing to be worried about. It’s a straightforward process. Nonetheless, it’s very important; hence, attendance of the filer is a must. Failure to appear can result in the dismissal of the case.
What can be expected after the meeting? The hard part of the bankruptcy process is over. For Chapter 7 filers, the letter of discharge will be delivered in at least 60 days and the case will be closed. For Chapter 13 filers, bankruptcy proceedings usually also involve a confirmation hearing. The case will be confirmed about a month after the meeting unless there is an objection to address. In some areas, confirmation is no longer necessary if there are no objections to the repayment plan and the trustee agrees. The discharge will come in three to five years.
If you are experiencing financial problems or having difficulty in debt management, consult a bankruptcy lawyer to find out which debt relief solutions are appropriate for your circumstances. Many bankruptcy lawyers offer a free consultation to prospective clients. If you need legal advice or legal representation in a bankruptcy case, call us at Thomas E. McIntire and Associates, L.C. to talk to one of our bankruptcy attorneys.