When it comes to filing bankruptcy, one of the things people stress about is the 341 meeting of creditors. You likely have many questions about facing your creditors in a hearing. The best action you can take is to consult with a skilled legal professional.
The Charlottte bankruptcy attorneys at The Law Office of Jack G. Lezman can walk you through the process and stand by your side at the meeting of creditors. Call us today to find out how we can help you.
1) Do You Have to Attend the Meeting of Creditors?
Yes, in most situations, you will have to be present at the 341 meeting of creditors. Although your attorney can appear on your behalf at most other hearings, you will actually have to attend the meeting of creditors. You may have your attorney present, and they can help you answer questions.
If you are anxious about attending the meeting, your attorney can help you prepare. There are many common questions that will be asked, and your attorney can make sure you’re comfortable with answering them.
2) How to Prepare for a Meeting of Creditors
You will find out about your 341 meeting of creditors when you’re mailed a notice by the bankruptcy court. The court will use the address you listed on your bankruptcy petition. The notice will let you know the date, time, and place of your meeting. It will also state your bankruptcy date of filing and case number. Your trustee’s name and contact information will also be listed on your notice.
Deadline dates will be listed on your notice, but those will mostly apply to creditors. Your creditors will need to know the last date they can object to things like your discharge and bankruptcy exemptions. Your attorney will likely make note of this date as well.
Documents to Take
Although every meeting of creditors is a little different, they all follow a specific process. You can be prepared by bringing certain documents and reviewing all information you’ve submitted in your bankruptcy paperwork.
You should bring a photo ID issued by the government, such as your driver’s license, state ID, or military ID. Also, make sure to bring a document that verifies your Social Security number, such as your SS card or a W2 statement. You may also bring copies of income records, tax statements, vehicle titles, and mortgage or rental contracts. You should have copies of all bankruptcy documents you have submitted to the court as well.
Keep in mind that you cannot bring a cell phone, laptop computer, or tablet with you. Meet with your bankruptcy attorney before the meeting of creditors to make sure you’re completely prepared.
What Happens During the Meeting
When you begin the meeting, the bankruptcy trustee will put you under oath. This is a sworn statement that you will not lie and will answer everything honestly. The trustee will then ask you questions about the information on your bankruptcy documents. They will review your contact and personal information, but the focus will be on your debts. Each of your debts will be reviewed and verified. Your attorney can help you refresh your memory about your debts before the meeting begins.
What Happens After the Meeting
If your meeting concludes and the trustee and creditors do not have any further questions, then you will not have to attend another hearing unless you are notified by your attorney that your presence is required. However, if the trustee needs additional information from you or a creditor has additional questions, you may be required to attend another meeting. The bankruptcy trustee will schedule another date and send you an additional notification.
3) Where Is the Meeting of Creditors Held?
Official hearings for your bankruptcy will be held in a courtroom at the Federal Courthouse in the district where you filed bankruptcy. However, your meeting of creditors will not be in a courtroom in front of a judge. Instead, it will be held in a meeting room, which will likely be at the courthouse.
In some situations, your attorney and trustee may agree to meet at a formal location away from the courthouse. You should be notified of the exact location several weeks before your meeting of creditors. You can also ask your attorney where the meeting will be held.
4) Who Will Attend the Meeting of Creditors?
A judge will not be present at your meeting of creditors. Instead, your bankruptcy trustee and any creditors who wish to attend will join you and your attorney in a meeting room. The trustee will guide the hearing, asking questions and presenting information. Creditors, who do not usually attend, may make statements and ask questions as well. It’s not common for creditors to attend unless they suspect fraud or wrongdoing.
Although your trustee will do most of the talking, the creditors will also have an opportunity to examine you. They may ask you about your financial information, such as the location and nature of your assets. They may ask questions about your purpose when accruing debt with their company and your intent. Their goal is to prove that their debt should be paid. If they say anything unnecessary, your attorney can step in and give you advice.
It’s likely that many other bankruptcy filers will be scheduled for a 341 meeting of creditors within the same time period that you are scheduled. The goal of the bankruptcy court is to complete as many meetings as possible as quickly as possible. You should review the court calendar to determine where you fall in the lineup so you know how many other people will be near the meeting room. It’s possible you will be able to view other meetings before it is time for yours. Most bankruptcy trustees follow the same process, so you can see how things will take place before your meeting.
5) Do You Need an Attorney at a Meeting of Creditors?
It’s important to have a bankruptcy attorney on your side at the meeting of creditors. You may be asked many questions that you’re unsure of how to answer. An attorney can help you make statements and answer questions thoroughly in a way that presents your information accurately.
Contact The Law Office of Jack G. Lezman Today
At The Law Office of Jack G. Lezman, our Charlotte Bankruptcy Attorneys understand that you may be apprehensive about your situation and need help presenting information to a trustee and creditors. Call us today at 704-350-2551 to speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney.