Bankruptcy Meeting of Creditors
The meeting of creditors is required under Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code. It is sometimes refer to as a 341(a) hearing. This hearing is typically scheduled 30 days after the petition is filed. The hearing is a short meeting which typically takes place in a large conference room either in the bankruptcy courthouse or an office building. The meeting is conducted by a chapter 7 trustee, who is either a CPA or a bankruptcy attorney appointed by the court to oversee your case. The meetings are recorded and testimony is given under oath under penalty of perjury. There are typically anywhere from 20 to 30 debtors waiting for their hearing in an hour slot.
You must appear at your meeting of creditors and answer questions regarding your bankruptcy petition and schedules. If you fail to appear for the first scheduled meeting, it will be continued for another meeting. Failure to appear at the continued meeting will result in your case being dismissed. If you hire our firm to represent you in your bankruptcy, an attorney from our firm will appear and represent you at the meeting.
Although it is called a meeting of creditors, creditors rarely appear to question you at this hearing. Creditors do not have to be present at the meeting. If they want to object to your bankruptcy, creditors can file lawsuits against you to challenge the discharge.
At the meeting, you will be required to show your identification card (driver's license, passport, state issued ID card...) and your original Social Security Card or a proof of Social Security number (1099, W2, etc.). You will be placed under oath by the trustee and questioned regarding your petition and schedules. Typically the trustee will ask whether you have read and personally signed the bankruptcy paperwork, if you’ve listed all of your assets and debts, and if all the information in the bankruptcy paperwork is true and accurate. The trustee will also examine your last tax return and ask if any creditors are present who would like to question you.
The purpose of the meeting of creditors is for the trustee to find out if you have any non-exempt assets that he or she can sell to pay a part of your debts to creditors. If you have no assets that the trustee can sell, your case will be declared a "No Asset" case and a report will be sent to the bankruptcy court. If the trustee determines that you have non-exempt assets that can be sold, the trustee will use the meeting to arrange for you to turn over the assets to her for liquidation.
After the meeting of creditors and usually within 120 to 160 days, you will receive your Discharge from the court.
Here are some common questions asked by the trustee at the meeting of creditors:
- Did you review the petition and schedules before you signed them?
- Is everything stated in your paperwork true and correct?
- Are there any errors or omissions you would like to bring to my attention?
- Did you list all of you assets?
- Did you list all of your debts?
- Have you sold or transferred anything of value within the last 3 years?
- Are you married?
- Does your spouse own anything not listed in your bankruptcy paperwork?
- When was the last time you used any of your credit cards?
- Are you the beneficiary of anyone's will or trust?
- Are you currently suing someone?