Your chapter 7 bankruptcy is more of a process than a single act. After your attorney files your bankruptcy with the federal court, the creditor's meeting might be your next step. This meeting, which is also referred to as a 341 meeting, can be a bit nerve-wracking for some filers. Know what to expect at your meeting and calm your fears. Read below to learn more.
What Is a Creditor's Meeting?
Many filers worry about facing a bankruptcy judge during the course of their bankruptcy, but that meeting never occurs. The creditor's meeting is not presided over by a judge, but by your bankruptcy trustee.
The meeting can take place in a courtroom, but it often takes place in a large conference room instead. The 341 meeting is a chance for the trustee to question you about your bankruptcy. In some cases, the meeting is also a chance for your creditors to appear.
How Should You Prepare for the Meeting?
If you come well prepared for the meeting, you'll also be more relaxed. Take the following steps prior to the appointment time:
- Review your bankruptcy paperwork and alert your attorney to any errors. You will be under oath when you reply to questions about the bankruptcy documents, so address errors before the meeting.
- Review the directions and instructions. You should review the location, time, and other important information about the meeting before the day of the meeting. Often, the letter will provide parking instructions, what to bring with you, and the exact location of the meeting.
- Ensure you have identification. You must show a government-issued photo identification card and your Social Security card. If you cannot locate your Social Security card, order it from the Social Security Administration well ahead of the creditor's meeting date.
Speak to your attorney about what else to bring with you.
What Should You Expect at Your Creditor's Meeting?
You might be surprised to find that other bankruptcy filers may attend your 341 meeting. Names are called alphabetically and you can observe other filers being questioned about their bankruptcies. Once called upon, you will rise and be sworn-in.
The bankruptcy trustee usually asks the same questions of all filers, but there are exceptions. You can provide ready answers if you ask your attorney what questions to expect. In most cases, the trustee asks the following questions:
- Have you filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy in the past?
- Is this your signature on the bankruptcy forms?
- Have you read your bankruptcy documents and is all information accurate?
- Have you filed your most recent tax year income taxes?
- In most cases, your 341 meeting will be over before you know it.
What If My Creditors Appear?
In rare cases, creditors listed on the bankruptcy documents send legal representatives to the meeting. Take a look at two of the most common reasons a creditor will appear at your meeting:
- Credit use — You must not take advantage of your bankruptcy filing to misuse credit. Bankruptcy regulations limit the use of cards to make purchases and to take cash advances in the months leading up to your filing date. If you exceed the $675 limit on purchases and the $950 on cash advances in the 90 or 70 days (respectively) prior to the filing, you may face questioning. You must explain the use to the satisfaction of the creditor and the trustee.
- Reaffirmations — You may have an opportunity to continue paying a debt and to keep a certain piece of property, such as a car.
As you can see, your 341 meeting is a fairly minor event. If you have questions about this meeting or any other aspect of a bankruptcy filing, contact us at The Michelson Law Office today.