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Bankruptcy 341 Meeting of Creditors

In all bankruptcy cases, the person filing has to go to court at least once and meet with a trustee in what is called a 341 Meeting of Creditors. The number “341” is a reference to the U.S. Code section that requires the meeting to be held in bankruptcy case. See 11 U.S. Code Section 341. Fortunately, while creditors are given notice of this meeting, most creditors never attend or send a representative. In Bankruptcy cases, clients often get concerned that the judge presiding over their case is likely to second-guess their bankruptcy petition. The concern is usually unwarranted. In the vast majority of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy cases, debtors never set foot in the courtroom and do not appear before judge. However, since the 341 Meeting of Creditors is still required under bankruptcy law, it is important to understand this requirement.

What is the Bankruptcy 341 Meeting?

341 meeting, also known as “Meeting of Creditors”, is a hearing all debtors are required to attend in any bankruptcy proceeding. During the meeting, creditors are notified that they must attend to ask debtors questions pertaining to the assets or any other matter relevant to the case. As mentioned above, the number 341 originates from Section 341 of Bankruptcy code. The hearing is conducted outside judge’s presence and occurs somewhere between 20 and 40 days after filing of the Bankruptcy Petition. When dealing with Chapter 7, 12, and 13 cases, the trustee conducts the meeting. On the other hand, if dealing with Chapter 11 case, a representative of the United States Trustee’s Office conducts the meeting.

What is the Setting for the 341 Meeting?

The 341 Meeting usually takes place in an office where the debtor and the attorney sit across a desk or table from the trustee. In majority of the cases, meeting won’t last long, but sometimes it may be required to wait before the case is called. This meeting is less formal than the hearing held before a judge. It is advised to be professionally dressed in business casuals.

What Happens During 341 Meeting?

During the meeting, the trustee or the representative of U.S. Trustee reviews the debtor’s petition and schedules a face-to-face meeting with the debtor. The debtor will be required to answer all the questions, when asked, truthfully under the penalty of perjury. The questions can range anywhere from debtor’s conduct to property, liabilities and financial condition. The purpose of asking these questions will be to demonstrate that debtor understands the bankruptcy process well. If you have an attorney for your bankruptcy case, your attorney should also attend the 341 Meeting with you. An experienced bankruptcy attorney should be able to provide you with a list of common questions asked during a 341 Meeting.

Generally, creditors are not required to attend the 341 Meeting and no rights are waived if they do not attend. The meeting generally lasts for only about five to ten minutes. However, it may be extended if the trustee or U.S. Trustee’s representative is not satisfied with the information presented. If the meeting is postponed and continuance is sought, then debtor/debtors trustee assigned to the case must be notified.

Motion of continuance should not be filed with the court unless trustee is against a requested continuance. A motion to continue the meeting of creditors should not be filed with the Court unless the trustee has refused a requested continuance.

On the other hand, the case may be dismissed if the debtor fails to appear in the Court and fails to provide the information requested. However, trustee or U.S. Trustee’s representative has the discretion to dismiss the case or seek an appropriate relief against the debtor for failure to cooperate. Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that if the case involves spouses filing jointly, both spouses must appear at the meeting of creditors.

What Happens After the 341 Meeting?

It is advised to complete the Financial Management/Debtor Education course by the time of the meeting. The course should be taken within 60 days of the first scheduled meeting with the creditors. The after meeting procedures may vary depending on the title.

Under a Title 7 case, also known as a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, unless additional information by the trustee is requested, no action will be required after the hearing. The trustee will send a report to the judge with the discharge recommendation. Approximately three months after the judge receives the recommendations, the judge will sign the order of discharge and close the case. At this point, no further action is required and case is complete.

Under a Title 13 case, also know as a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, a second hearing will be held. This hearing is known as “confirmation hearing.” The purpose of the hearing is to determine if a Title 13 plan (Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case Plan) should be approved or not. Generally, physical presence is not required during this meeting. If the trustee recommends approval, the plan will be approved. It is very common for the trustee to ask for amendments to Title 13 plan or after the meeting of the creditor. After the changes have been made, the trustee generally recommends to the judge that the proposed Title 13 plan be confirmed.

A little preparation for the meeting goes a long way. During the preparation time, it is generally advised to consult your local attorney specializing in Bankruptcy if you have any questions. This meeting is nothing to fear about. Your attorney can ease your doubts and answer any questions that you may have prior to attending your 341 Meeting.

Call 770-609-1247 today to speak with one of our experienced and caring bankruptcy attorneys.

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