Understanding a 341 Hearing – Meeting of the Creditors
Bankruptcies allow debtors a fresh financial start. But before crossing the finish line, there are several steps a debtor must first take. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, or have already filed for bankruptcy, you as the debtor may be wondering how your debts are discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Understanding the basic steps of bankruptcy can help a debtor understand the bankruptcy process better, and an attorney will ensure their rights are protected.
One of the most important aspects after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, will be the preparation for a 341 Hearing, which is called the Meeting of Creditors.
A 341 hearing is named after the federal law in the 11 U.S.C. Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code. This law states that a meeting must occur in a bankruptcy case where all creditors of the debtor may appear and question the debtor. This hearing occurs approximately one month after the filing of a bankruptcy case, and a bankruptcy trustee is officially assigned. The meeting allows all creditors to request documents or ask questions of the debtor with respect to the money owed to them, or any assets owned by the debtor, under oath. Each creditor will be mailed a notice of the meeting. Creditors are not required to attend these meetings.
A debtor, their attorney, the bankruptcy trustee and any creditor that chooses to attend will be present at the 341 meeting. The hearing will begin by the bankruptcy trustee confirming the identity of the debtor through examination of a driver’s license and proof of social security number check through examination of a social security card.
A bankruptcy trustee will inform the debtor of all paperwork that needs to be completed or submitted prior to the 341 hearing. The bankruptcy trustee will go over all of this paperwork prior to the 341 hearing and verify and determine its accuracy. Documentation will need to be presented regarding a debtor’s assets and financial obligations. Bankruptcy fraud is common, and a bankruptcy trustee will attempt to ensure that all the documentation and evidence presented is complete and accurate.
As a debtor prepares for the 341 hearing, they should familiarize themselves with their own documentation so that all questions can be answered fairly and accurately. The debtor is their own best witness to their financial situation and what led them to declare bankruptcy.
Documents To Bring
All debtors will need to bring their required 341 documents including bank statements, tax returns, paycheck stubs, and other financial information. Depending on the specific facts and circumstances of your case, a bankruptcy trustee may also request that a debtor provide marital settlement agreements, vehicle loans, proof of insurance, car titles, mortgage information, real estate deeds, or any other court order.
Contact an Experienced Bankruptcy Attorney Today
The bankruptcy process can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate alone without professional advice or legal experience. Contact one of our experienced West Palm Beach bankruptcy attorneys at Kelley, Fulton & Kaplan at 561-264-6850 for a free consultation regarding what type of bankruptcy you should file, how to go about the filing process, which of your debts will be discharged, and how to prepare fully for your 341 hearing.