Every debtor who files either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is required to attend a creditor’s (also known as a 341) meeting. The meeting usually takes place about 30 days after you file your petition. Typically the Chapter 7 meetings are held in the morning and the 13’s are held in the afternoon at the Bankruptcy Court in the District where you filed. Most of the time, it is the only court appearance for your bankruptcy.
You should arrive when the Court session starts but be prepared to stay several hours. Although it is referred to as Court, there is no judge or jury. All the debtors and their attorneys are seated in a large room that holds about 100 people. Each debtor is called one by one to stand before the Trustee who is seated at a large table at the front of the room. Debtors are accompanied by their attorney and are first sworn in. Generally, your creditors will not show up at the meeting but the Trustee will ask you several questions. The Trustee is responsible for your bankruptcy and must assure that your creditors are treated fairly. The Trustee will ask you for proof of your identity. You (and your spouse, if you have filed jointly), must have your driver’s license and Social Security card. He or she will also ask you a series of brief questions including your current address, your source of income, and if everything in your petition is true and accurate. They may ask you more questions especially if your case is complicated or you have a business associated with your personal bankruptcy. If you have filed a Chapter 13 this is the time to amend your proposed payment plan for the Trustee’s approval. The actual time you stand before the Trustee is usually just a few minutes and the questions are simple and straightforward. Even though your statements are admitted to the Court record, the format is more like a hearing.
The creditors’ meetings are mandatory for every debtor who files. On occasion your attorney may be able to continue your case if there are reasonable circumstances preventing you from attending, but every effort should be made to attend your 341 meeting as scheduled. Navigating the 341 meeting is just another reason you should retain an experienced attorney to represent you in your bankruptcy. Your attorney and their staff will be able to prepare you properly for your creditor’s meeting so that the process goes smoothly. If you would like more information regarding creditors’ meetings or bankruptcy in general please contact our office at 919-562-0770.