One of the most common questions asked about filing bankruptcy is whether a person is required to go to court. Each debtor in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is required to attend at least one hearing. The 341 Meeting, or the Meeting of Creditors, is typically the first, and sometimes the only, court hearing a debtor must attend. If you retain a Georgia bankruptcy attorney, your attorney attends the hearing with you and you are required to answer the questions asked by the trustee.
Who Conducts the 341 Meeting?
The bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case conducts the Meeting of Creditors. A judge is not present. Even though the meeting is informal and only lasts about 7 minutes, you should treat the hearing seriously. The questions you answer are asked under oath. Intentionally providing false or misleading information can result in the dismissal of your bankruptcy case and other sanctions from the court.
What Happens at a 341 Meeting?
Arriving about 30 minutes early for your hearing will give you an excellent idea of what will happen during your hearing. Each hearing begins in the same manner. The trustee or an assistant places you under oath and asks you basic questions, such as your name; whether you prepared the forms; if all information on your forms is correct; and, whether you need to make any changes to the information reported in the forms. The trustee asks the same general questions of each debtor; therefore, arriving early helps you prepare for the questions you will answer during your hearing.
The remaining questions concern the financial information provided to the bankruptcy court in your bankruptcy forms. The trustee reviews your bankruptcy forms before the hearing. He or she may have questions about the assets or debts listed in your forms. The trustee may ask specific questions about your income, expenses, and previous financial transactions. In some cases, a trustee may have additional questions to clear up any matters the trustee believes pertains directly to your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case.
Creditors are permitted to appear at the hearing and ask questions. The questions relate to the debt you owe the creditor or other matters related to your bankruptcy case. It is rare that creditors appear at these hearings. In most hearings, the trustee asks questions and then dismisses the debtor.
In a Chapter 7 case, the trustee announces whether the trustee is abandoning the assets (no-asset case), the trustee is declaring the case an asset case, or the trustee is holding the case open for further review. Most Chapter 7 cases filed in Georgia are no-asset cases.
Contact a Georgia Bankruptcy Attorney for More Information
Even though your Georgia bankruptcy attorney cannot answer questions during a 341 meeting, your attorney prepares you for the hearing. A seasoned attorney will provide you with sample questions you may be asked. Preparation helps you remain calm during the hearing because you know what to expect. Your attorney also prepares all bankruptcy forms and file those forms.
Having an attorney help you with your bankruptcy case can reduce the chance of mistakes or errors that cause unnecessary delays, denials of discharge, or loss of property. Schedule a consult with an experienced Georgia bankruptcy attorney to learn more about how bankruptcy can work for you.
Posted in: Bankruptcy