Who Can Attend The 341 Meeting?
What Happens After The 341 Meeting Of Creditors Is Over?
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The 341 Meeting of Creditors and their requirements.
Generally, once the debtors complete the meeting of creditors, their involvement in the case is pretty much done. All they have to do is make sure that they have completed their credit management class.
If they have a car or a vehicle of some type and they want to reaffirm the debt, which means that they say I know I am filing bankruptcy on all of my creditors, but I want to keep this car and I want to keep the loan in force and I want to keep all my rights under the contract. So what the debtor will do is that they will sign a reaffirmation agreement that says “Okay, I understand I filed but I agree to keep the debt just like it was before the filing of the bankruptcy case”. By doing so, the debtors will have a positive credit reference on their credit reports and will help them improve their credit score after they get their bankruptcy discharge. That is the main thing that takes place after the 341 hearing other than making sure you have your second class completed and that the certificate has been filed with the bankruptcy court. Other than that, the debtor is just waiting to get their discharge.
Who Can Attend The 341 Meeting Of Creditors And What Are The Prerequisites For Attending?
If Someone Is Filing With Their Spouse, Do They Both Have To Attend The Meeting?
Yes. Any debtor that files a petition in bankruptcy court will need to appear at the Meeting of Creditors to be examined under oath. If you file a joint petition with a spouse, then you both need to appear and you both need to testify.
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Does Someone Have To Have Completed All Mandatory Classes Or Courses Before The Meeting?
No. In order for someone to file their case, they have to complete the initial credit counseling class. The credit management class has to be completed within 45 days of the Creditors Meeting. If the Creditors Meeting is today, then they have 45 days from today in order to complete that credit management class. If they do not complete that credit management class, then their case can be closed without a discharge being granted in their favor.
What Do People Need To Know About This Meeting? Is It Something To Be Afraid Of?
Quite honestly, the Meeting of Creditors is quite simple and there is generally nothing to be afraid of. If the debtor has properly prepared their case; they have told the truth; and they have supplied the trustee with all the required information that the trustee requires prior to the hearing, then generally speaking the hearing goes nice and smooth with very little drama.
Anytime that somebody is going to have to testify under oath, by nature they are going to be nervous. People think the worst thing is going to happen to them like they are not going to get their discharge, the trustee is going to yell at them or the creditors are going to beat them up. Generally speaking, none of that ever happens.
What Are The Things To Know About A 341 Meeting Of Creditors?
What Can Someone Do Or What Should Someone Do To Prepare For This Meeting?
The main thing that a debtor can do to prepare for the meeting is to just review their petition and schedules and make sure they know what is in them; make sure they have told the truth; and make sure that they have not omitted any creditors or they have not omitted any assets.
They should also read the information their attorney has sent to them about what the potential questions are that they are going to be asked.
Then, here in the Southern District of California, they have a questionnaire that they need to fill out. It is generally requested that they fill out the questionnaire in advance so that their lawyer can review it prior to the hearing and make sure that that is correct and ready to be given to the trustee.
Other than that, get a good night’s sleep, have a good breakfast and be on time for the hearing. That is pretty much all that the debtors need to do.
At What Point In The Bankruptcy Process Does This Meeting Take Place?
The Meeting of Creditors is usually held within 40 days of the filing of the petition. What normally happens is that a person files a petition, a trustee is assigned to that case, the hearing date is set by the bankruptcy court and a notice is sent out by the court stating what date and time the 341 meeting of creditors hearing will be held.
After the Creditors Meeting, they have to wait for the set period of time that the creditors have to file objections to them receiving a discharge, objections to a claim or objections to an exemption. Once that period of time runs, which is 90 days, the trustee files a report and then the court processes their paperwork and issues them a discharge.
Is There A Judge Or A Creditor Attending The 341 Meeting Of Creditors?
Does Someone Actually See A Judge In Any Of These Cases Or Is It Just The Trustee And Possibly A Creditor?
In a 341 Meeting of Creditors, there is no judge. It is called a Meeting of Creditors, but basically it is a hearing. When someone enters the hearing room, there will be 10 or 11 other people on the same one hour calendar that they are on. If they are on the 8:00 calendar it normally runs from 8:00 to 9:00. The 9:00 calendar is from 9:00 to 10:00 and so on.
The debtor will go into the hearing room with the trustee seated up at the front of the room. There will be a couple of tables in front with a microphone and chairs for the attorney and the creditors and the debtors to sit at. The trustee will make an opening statement about procedure and that they are testifying under penalty of perjury and things of that nature.
Then the trustee will call each debtor up one at a time, so if it is a husband and wife, then they go up at the same time. They sit down at the table with me normally to their right or left. Next, they are sworn in under oath. Their identifications are then verified by driver’s licenses and social security cards. The Trustee will ask them all the basic questions. Then the trustee will ask if any creditors are there and normally there are no creditors appearing and then the Trustee concludes the meeting and that is it.
The only time the judge ever gets involved is if there is an issue that has to go in front of the judge for a judicial decision to be rendered on. In Chapter 7 cases that rarely happens. In Chapter 13 cases, it happens more often because you are dealing with a reorganization plan. So sometimes there are things that the judge has to decide because the parties cannot agree.
Generally speaking, the 341 meeting of creditors is the only hearing the most debtors have to go to.
Although Creditors Do Not Usually Show Up, Why Would A Creditor Ever Show Up?
In a Chapter 7 hearing, a creditor would show up if they believed that there was a possibility that there were assets that the debtor had that the debtor could not claim as exempt and would, therefore, be liquidated.
The creditors used to send representatives when they had a credit card at Sears and the debtor had bought a washing machine or a refrigerator and the creditor tried to assert that it was a secured claim. They would want to get the debtor on record saying “you bought this, you own it and you still have it. Therefore, we are entitled to be paid for that particular item.”
Those are the main reasons why creditors usually show up in Chapter 7 cases. As already mentioned, for the most part creditors only appear when they are asset cases where some assets are going to be liquidated and creditors are going to be paid.
In the typical no asset case where the debtors have exempted all of their property, there will generally be no creditors that appear.