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Will I Need to Go to Court If I File for Bankruptcy?

File for Bankruptcy from HomeFile for Bankruptcy from Home

One of the most intimidating aspects of filing for bankruptcy is meeting in person with other people involved in the bankruptcy process. Though you’ll likely never have to go to court if you file, you’ll need to attend the 341 Meeting of Creditors. It’s not a formal court appearance, but it can still be scary. For those who file for bankruptcy from home, the 341 Meeting of Creditors and other bankruptcy obligations can all be handled without leaving your house.

What Happens During the 341 Meeting of Creditors When You File for Bankruptcy from Home?

Essentially, you can expect the same thing to happen at the 341 Meeting of Creditors regardless of whether you meet in person or virtually. It’s scheduled for approximately a month after you file. The purpose is to give the trustee a chance to ask questions or dispute the discharge of your debt.

Shortly after, the sale of those assets begins and your creditors are paid from the proceeds. If you are filing for Chapter 13, the trustee uses the time at the 341 Meeting to look over your financial information and help you create a manageable repayment plan.

You can learn more about the objectives of the 341 Meeting here.

In the past, this meeting might have taken place at the courthouse, but you did not go into a courtroom and it wasn’t overseen by a judge. It wasn’t the most enjoyable part of filing for bankruptcy, but for most people, it went much better than expected.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing restrictions that will likely be in place for the foreseeable future, 341 Meetings have become virtual. Everything remains the same, but instead of meeting face-to-face in a room with other people, you sign into a video call or online meeting platform and participate virtually. This makes it safe and convenient to file for bankruptcy from home.

Do I Need to Do Anything Differently for a Virtual 341 Meeting?

Yes and no.

As far as the basic meeting requirements are concerned you’ll need to make sure you can “attend” virtually. Your bankruptcy attorney can help you do a trial run to make sure your internet connection is working. They’ll also help you familiarize yourself with the technology of attending an online meeting.

The expectations for the meeting are the same when you file for bankruptcy from home. This means everything you would’ve brought with you to the in-person meeting you’ll need to share with attendees in advance. Your lawyer will help you determine if anything needs to be submitted to the trustee beforehand. They’ll also help you get organized so everything you might need during the meeting is readily available once the meeting is underway.

The primary purpose of the 341 Meeting is for the trustee to have you answer a few questions. These questions include:

  • Have you listed all your assets and debts?
  • Do you have any child or spousal support obligations?
  • Have you ever used another Social Security number?
  • Is the address on your bankruptcy paperwork correct?
  • Were there any omissions or errors on your bankruptcy paperwork?

Like most things, COVID-19 has altered the process of filing for bankruptcy. For many, this means they don’t need to worry about the intimidation of attending an in-person meeting with the bankruptcy trustee. For others, the idea of using technology and attending a meeting virtually is even more intimidating.

Regardless of where you stand, an experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you prepare. They’ll also help you feel better about the 341 Meeting when you file for bankruptcy from home. If you have questions or you’d like to discuss your bankruptcy case, contact the Law Office of Robert M. Geller at 813-254-5696.

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