From the moment you meet with your attorney for your pre-bankruptcy consultation until you receive the official discharge for your bankruptcy, there are numerous important events that comprise the bankruptcy process. One such event is the meeting of the creditors.
The meeting of the creditors, also known as the 341 creditors meeting, is a daunting part of the bankruptcy process for many individuals. Keep reading so you will understand what to expect at the meeting so that you may find it less it less intimidating.
What Happens at the 341 Creditors Meeting
Though the meeting of the creditors is a short hearing that usually only lasts 5-10 minutes, it causes anxiety for many debtors. If you are filing for bankruptcy with the assistance of an attorney, your lawyer will also attend the session. You may feel more at ease if you understand the purpose of the 341 creditors meeting.
The objective of this hearing is to clarify any questions the trustee has regarding your finances and to make sure that you haven’t purposely or intentionally omitted important information from the documents for your bankruptcy filing.
The trustee uses this meeting to help decide whether to confirm your chapter 13 payment plan and to make recommendations which concern the sale of assets in a chapter 7 plan.
If for any reason you can’t attend the meeting, notify your lawyer as soon as possible. Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to choose the date of your meeting, but your lawyer may be able to have your case continued and your meeting rescheduled.
How Proper Preparation Helps the Meeting Go Smoothly
Prior to 341 creditors meeting, you need to supply your attorney with all the required documents. Your attorney will give you a list of everything that you must supply; the list typically includes items like bank statements, income tax returns, property titles, and loan documents.
Provide these documents to your attorney before your meeting date so that your bankruptcy trustee has a chance to review your paperwork. If you neglect to include a document, this interferes with your bankruptcy case and causes the trustee to postpone your hearing or even dismiss your case.
On the day of your meeting, you need to bring an acceptable form of identification and proof of your social security number. Your lawyer conveys pertinent information concerning rules for your specific meeting. For example, some 341 meetings forbid cell phones from entering the meeting room.
Why Creditors Rarely Attend the Meeting
Despite the name, it’s rare for creditors to show up to the 341 meeting. Every creditor receives a notice about the meeting, but unless they suspect you are hiding information, lying about your financial information, or bought items via credit with no intention of repaying your debt, there’s little motivation for them to attend the hearing.
If a creditor does show up, they must question you respectfully. This also applies to any friends or family members that you owe money to. Should they become loud or boisterous, the trustee can have them removed. Answer their concerns as truthfully as possible under the guidance of your lawyer.
What Questions You May Have to Answer
Remember, it’s the bankruptcy trustee’s job to clarify any information that appears incorrect or incomplete. Your trustee may have concerns regarding the following details.
- Valuations of your assets
- Expenses that seem excessively high
- Expectations of large cash windfalls
- Plans regarding your home or vehicles
- The feasibility of your chapter 13 payment
Prior to the meeting, your lawyer can discuss any likely concerns that the bankruptcy trustee may have. They can guide you with explaining the circumstances surrounding questionable aspects of your finances.
Have more questions regarding the bankruptcy process? Call Frances H. Hollinger, Attorney at Law for a free legal consultation.