Meeting Your Creditors As Part Of Your Bankruptcy Proceeding
Whether you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, there will come a point in your bankruptcy proceeding when you will be required to have a meeting with your creditors as part of your bankruptcy proceeding. This meeting is also sometimes referred to as a 341 hearing, which is a reference to the section of bankruptcy law that governs these meetings of creditors.
How Does A Meeting Of Creditors Come About?
When you file for bankruptcy, the court assigns your bankruptcy case a bankruptcy trustee. This trustee oversees many aspects of your bankruptcy proceeding, including the meeting of creditors. Although the meeting is referred to as a hearing, it is not a court hearing, but your attendance is required nonetheless. Failure to attend this meeting often results in your bankruptcy case being dismissed by the trustee – so don’t miss your scheduled meeting with your creditors!
What Happens At The 341 Hearing?
The meeting of creditors is an opportunity for creditors and the bankruptcy trustee to evaluate your bankruptcy claim. The meeting is less formal than going to court, but you should treat the meeting seriously nonetheless. These meetings are also usually fairly short. The trustee will be in attendance, as well as yourself and your bankruptcy lawyer, and while your creditors are invited to attend the meeting, many often do not show up.
At the beginning of the meeting you will be placed under oath. Then during the meeting, the trustee and creditors in attendance at your 341 hearing will analyze your bankruptcy documents and ask you questions while you are under oath. You are required to answer truthfully and to the best of your ability. The questions are meant to help your bankruptcy trustee and creditors try to determine if you are capable of repaying them somehow. The questions are intended to identify any other possible sources of money, income or assets that you may have access to that can be used to repay your creditors.
You might also be asked to provide additional documents concerning your financial affairs, such as providing your most recent pay stub, recent tax forms, mortgage and auto loan documents that state your outstanding balances, valuations for any large assets you may own, such as real property, etc. You should have already provided these documents to your lawyer, but you should bring extra copies to the meeting as well. If there have been any updates to these documents since the time of your initial bankruptcy filing, you should be forthcoming about these updates or changes – you do not want to appear as though you are trying to hide the fact that your financial situation has changed since filing for bankruptcy.
The meeting with your creditors is nothing to be afraid of, and even if you are scared, your bankruptcy lawyer will be by your side the whole way. The 341 hearing is just a necessary step in completing your bankruptcy proceeding, and everyone who files for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy must go through it.
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and need help dealing with your creditors or if you have questions about filing for bankruptcy and the meeting with your creditors, please contact an experienced bankruptcy lawyer at the Hathaway Law Center.