Anyone filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is required to attend a 341 Meeting or meeting of creditors. It takes place about three to four weeks after you file and it is mandatory. It is also one of the most intimidating aspects of filing for bankruptcy and the event that filers dread most. Understanding what will occur at the meeting of creditors and having your attorney with you during the meeting can help to put your mind at ease.
The meeting of creditors typically occurs in a meeting room inside of the bankruptcy court – not inside of the courtroom. There is no judge present during the meeting, but your trustee will be in attendance and will conduct the meeting. Sometimes creditors attend the meeting, though they are not required to do so. You can, however, count on them being there if there is a question of whether you are filing in good faith or if there are questions about whether you intend to keep property associated with your debts.
What Should You Do to Prepare for the Meeting of Creditors?
Prior to the meeting, your attorney will review with you what you should bring with you. In most cases, you’ll need property deeds and titles, bank statements, pay stubs, and tax returns. The more organized you are the better, so find out what will be needed and gather the documents in advance of the meeting. Take some time to organize other financial records too, if possible, so you’ll have easy access to anything requested at the last minute.
During the meeting, you’ll be asked a few questions. Your attorney can review with you the best answers to provide to the questions, which might include:
• Why did you file for bankruptcy?
• Have you sold or given away property recently?
• Are your monthly expenses necessary?
• Is the income reported on your paperwork accurate?
• Were your answers to the bankruptcy means test honest?
For a more complete list of questions you might be asked at the meeting of creditors, see this list.
Though the meeting of creditors does not take place inside of a courtroom, you are sworn in and will be answering questions under oath. Answering dishonestly will not help your case and will likely result in your bankruptcy requesting being denied – and possibly worse.
What Happens after the Meeting of Creditors Ends?
At the conclusion of the meeting you will be instructed to provide further information if needed. You might also be instructed to complete a debtor education class and provide proof of having done so. The sooner you complete anything assigned to you during the meeting the sooner your bankruptcy can be finalized, allowing you to move forward with rebuilding your financial life.
One of the most important things a bankruptcy attorney can do for you is to help you prepare for your meeting of creditors and attend the meeting with you. This not only ensures you answer questions accurately and correctly, it provides emotional support during this stressful and nerve-wracking time.
For more information about the meeting of creditors or to begin working with an attorney who can help you file for bankruptcy, contact the Law Offices of Robert M. Geller at 813.254.5696.