What Can I Expect From a 341 Meeting of Creditors?
If you are filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it is necessary to attend a meeting of creditors, known as a 341 Hearing because it is required under Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code. This meeting must be held at least 21 days, but not longer than 50 days, after the bankruptcy filing.
It is important to note that this is not a court hearing, a judge does not preside over the meeting, and it is typically held in a meeting room at the courthouse. A bankruptcy attorney can be with you at the 341 Hearing. In order to prepare, you must gather certain documents including a photo id, your Social Security card, proof of income and recent bank account & investment account statements. Your attorney prepares bankruptcy papers, documents required under the means test, and can assist you with any other documents that the trustee may request.
Before the 341 Hearing starts, the trustee will review the bankruptcy petition, and any additional schedules, to verify that all of your assets and property have been included and that your reported income is accurate. These hearings are brief, typically lasting about 10 to 15 minutes.
During the hearing, the trustee asks routine questions to make sure the bankruptcy petition is complete and accurate and that no information has been omitted. The trustee is basically trying to learn as much as possible about your assets and determine which debts should be discharged.
Creditors may also attend, but they often do not appear, unless they believe you may have committed fraud. Possible indications of fraud include credit card charges or cash advances that were made shortly before the bankruptcy filing. However, in a Chapter 7 filing, an auto lender may attend the hearing to see whether you plan on reaffirming the loan or surrendering the car. Likewise, a mortgage lender may attend a Chapter 13 hearing to verify the details of the repayment plan.
While a 341 Hearing appears to be straightforward, it is crucial to ensure the bankruptcy papers and other required documents are in order. The experienced bankruptcy attorneys at O’Connell and Aronowitz can help you navigate the process.
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