It does not matter whether you qualify for a Chapter 7, or whether you are made to file a Chapter 13 — in either case, you must attend a meeting of creditors. At this meeting, you will be required to present your financial documents to the trustee, prove your identity and answer questions about your filing. There are a number of parties present at this meeting other than you. Your attorney is there to guide you through the process and put you at ease. Also present is the bankruptcy trustee and possibly creditors or their representatives. This meeting is the opportunity for the trustee and any creditors to ask you questions about your bankruptcy case.
For some, the idea of going to court causes anxiety and stress. It is important to note the 341 meeting is relatively casual. The judge who assigned your case will not be present, so you need not be on edge. Answer the questions posed to you with honesty and clarity, and the process will be over shortly. The purpose of the meeting is to give you information as well as answer questions of any creditors present. While your attorney has already explained the process to you, the court is also required to advise you of the important information regarding filing for bankruptcy and establishing your eligibility to file the case. Some of the things that take place at the 341 meeting include:
- The effect of a bankruptcy filing and the purpose of the discharge: the discharge is what every filer seeks when filing bankruptcy. The discharge is an administrative function of the court, and is entered when the court is satisfied your case is complete. Entry of the discharge acts to “wipe out” the debt included in the bankruptcy, which has not been reaffirmed. This means that credit card debt you used to struggle to pay no longer exists. But, the house payment you decided to reaffirm remains in place as a valid and enforceable debt that must be paid.
- Bankruptcy eligibility: this is the portion of the meeting where your attorney will ask you to state certain things for the record that demonstrate an accurate filing. For instance, you must be a resident of the district in which you filed for the six months prior to filing, you must not have intended to file bankruptcy when you incurred any of the debt you seek to discharge and you must confirm the information you gave your attorney to prepare your case is accurate.
- The purpose of bankruptcy: bankruptcy laws were enacted to give people finding themselves in unfortunate financial distress a change to get back on track. Bankruptcy Court was designed with the consumer in mind, and provides relief for those having a hard time stretching their dollars.
After your attorney and the trustee ask you these few short questions, any creditor present is also allowed to ask about the debt owed them. The creditor will likely ask your intent regarding their debt, which means they want to know if you will be reaffirming the debt or giving back the collateral pledged for the loan.
Because most people do not go to court every day, the 341 meeting can cause apprehension and nervousness. With a skilled attorney at your side, your level of comfort will remain high, and you will be able to attend the meeting with confidence. David R. Black puts you at ease and prepares you for what to expect at the 341 meeting. Call today for an appointment to discuss your case.