What Does the Creditors’ Meeting Involve?
Knowing what to expect during bankruptcy helps you prepare and participate in a way that can lead to a successful outcome. While your bankruptcy lawyer provides legal guidance, offers explanations, and is at your side throughout the process, a basic understanding of key bankruptcy proceedings can also greatly benefit you.
A creditors’ meeting is a legal action that occurs relatively soon, generally within three to four weeks, after filing bankruptcy. It’s like a deposition. During this meeting, you, your lawyer, a bankruptcy trustee, examiner, or the U.S. Trustee meet to review your bankruptcy petition and schedules. You answer questions under oath about your financial affairs. The Judge is typically not present at the initial meeting of creditors.
A 341 meeting, which refers to section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/11/341), is another name for a creditors’ meeting. The court mails you a notice of the exact time and location for the 341 meeting. The meeting’s purpose is to give your creditors and the trustee an opportunity to review your schedules to insure eligibility for bankruptcy relief, prevent fraud, and prevent abuse of the bankruptcy process.
Why it is helpful to have a lawyer for the 341 meeting
The U.S. Courts highly recommend that people filing for bankruptcy use a lawyer, as bankruptcy can be complicated and demands precise adherence to the Bankruptcy Code and established procedures. If you do not have a bankruptcy lawyer, you must represent yourself in the 341 meeting.
At the meeting, the trustee asks you a number of questions about your assets, debts, and financial affairs leading up to your bankruptcy filing. The Trustee and creditors have the right to file proceedings in bankruptcy court to dismiss your case or block the discharge of debts in some circumstances.
Creditors often do not attend a 341 meeting, but in the event that they do, you must know how to answer their questions and defend against challenges. A bankruptcy attorney can assist you greatly in preparing for the meeting and the potential questions that creditors may ask. Engaging an attorney to represent you before you file is key to making the 341 meeting run smoothly and less stressful for you.