Whether you file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, one of the first steps you will be required to take is called a ‘meeting of creditors’. Your attorney may also refer to this as a ‘341 hearing’, in reference to the section of the bankruptcy code which established the hearing requirement.
Regardless of what you call it, the meeting of creditors is a basic, simple, quick process, and is no cause for anxiety or concern.
Normally, the only attendees at the meeting are the appointed bankruptcy trustee, the individual filing bankruptcy, and their attorney.
Creditors are invited to attend the meeting, but in most cases do not. If creditors do attend, your attorney will make sure they do not treat you unfairly or try to get some advantage during the proceeding.
At is heart, the basic purpose of this meeting is to confirm financial and personal information that you have previously provided the trustee.
The trustee is not there to grill you, trip you up, or to find personal fault with you. The trustee’s only purpose is to confirm that the information you have submitted as part of your bankruptcy filing is accurate and up to date.
Before the meeting begins, the trustee will ask you to present your driver’s license and social security card so that he can confirm your identity.
Next, the trustee will swear you in.
The remainder of the meeting will consist of the trustee going over the information provided in your bankruptcy filing, such as salary, debts owned, assets, and so forth.
The trustee may also review the documents that you would have previously submitted to them, such as tax returns and pay stubs, and ask to confirm that the information is correct or if it has changed since your filing.
Generally, it is just a process of confirming the information you have provided in the filing.
However, if the information is incorrect or out-of-date by the time of the hearing, it is very important that you discuss any changes or incorrect information that may be in the filing prior to the meeting so that your attorney will be prepared for any questions the trustee may have.
This will allow you to adequately explain any discrepancies to the trustee during the meeting.
The meeting normally last less than one hour.
At the close of the meeting, the trustee may request additional documentation. If so, you will need to make sure you return this documentation to your attorney for delivery to the trustee as soon as possible.
What happens next depends on whether have filed for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
If you have filed for Chapter 7, the trustee will prepare a report for the judge advising a discharge of the bankruptcy. If the judge agrees with the findings of the trustee, your discharge will be granted and the case will be closed.
If you have filed for Chapter 13, the trustee will report his findings to the judge.
The judge will then schedule a confirmation hearing to decide if your bankruptcy plan should be approved. Generally, a judge will approve the plan unless creditors or the debtor provides information that will require the plan to be modified.
Bankruptcy can be a complicated process, and requires competent, experienced legal representation to protect your best interest. Contact us for more information on bankruptcy.