One of the biggest challenges of getting through the bankruptcy process is simply overcoming your fears and moving forward. Surviving the bankruptcy 341 meeting of creditors is really no different.
The thought of sitting in a tiny room getting grilled by the creditors who’ve been calling incessantly, all by yourself, is certainly scary! However, the reality is not nearly as grim is you might imagine.
We’ll go over what you need to know about the meeting of creditors so that you can approach this part of the bankruptcy process confidently and move closer to the fresh start you’re shooting for.
What is the Bankruptcy 341 Meeting of Creditors?
First off, the U.S. Courts website notes that the meeting of creditors is informally called a "341 meeting" because section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code requires that the debtor attend this meeting so that creditors can question the debtor about debts and property. Typically, this is the only formal proceeding at which a you must actually appear, and it is usually held at the offices of your bankruptcy trustee.
Creditors may also attend this meeting and question the debtor, although the meeting is directed by the trustee assigned to the case and most of the questions originate with them.
What to Bring:
You should bring a government issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. You should also bring your social security card or a couple of pay stubs with your social security number on them. Your attorney can also fill you in on anything else you might want to bring to the meeting.
Who Will Be There:
You won’t be alone! Your lawyer can attend the first meeting of creditors with you sit next to you while you are speaking with the trustee. While all of your creditors are invited to attend your meeting of creditors, they rarely come because they have a very limited time to ask questions and will usually not benefit from the meeting in most cases.
There is no judge, and typically you will only be examined by the bankruptcy trustee. However, the meeting of creditors is open to the public and there are many hearings scheduled for each hour. This means that the other people in your situation will be able observe while waiting for their case to be called. However, this can actually benefit you, because if you show up early, you can get an idea about how things will go before your meeting!
What if Creditors Do Show Up?
No need to fear if they do. No one will be allowed to badger, harass or humiliate you at the meeting. You will be treated with dignity and respect at all times. Plus, the automatic stay prohibits most creditors from continuing collection actions against you during your bankruptcy case.
Do You Have to Attend?
Yes, definitely! If you fail to attend the meeting, your bankruptcy case can be dismissed. Thus, if you are unable to attend the meeting on the day it is scheduled, you must contact your bankruptcy trustee and request the matter be continued.
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