The first hearing you will be required to attend after filing a bankruptcy is the First Meeting of Creditors, also called the 341 Meeting.
It is usually scheduled for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy from about 30 to 45 days after the bankruptcy petition has been filed.
For Chapter 13 cases, the First Meeting of Creditors will be scheduled for the third Wednesday of the month after you filed the petition unless there is a Holiday issue.
Creditors are given an opportunity to meet with the filing debtor or debtors in front of the trustee. This is done in order for the creditors to ask any pertinent questions to the debtors in regards to the debts listed in the filed petition. This opportunity is called the 341 Meeting.
If you are filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, called liquidating your assets, and do not have any assets to liquidate, there would really be no reason for a creditor to take advantage of the opportunity to attend the 341 meeting.
If a creditor did want to attend the meeting for some reason, most creditors usually have to pay someone to attend. Unless there are extenuating circumstances on the debt owed, creditors usually will not spend the money.
So, creditors rarely attend the meeting in any case.
Even if you have non-exempt assets to liquidate, it is rare for a creditor to attend the 341 meeting. If there are any legal questions creditors have about the debts owed, they are addressed through a different format and are not addressed at this meeting.
If a Chapter 7 trustee wants additional information from the filer, he may request the information at the 341 meeting.
If you are filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, called a wage earner’s plan, the trustee’s main focus is going to be reviewing the plan to make sure it was prepared correctly and that everyone understands what the plan is directing the debtors to do.
The debtor in a Chapter 13 should have made his or her first payment to the trustee by the time the 341 meeting is held. By this time, creditors should already know if they will be receiving payments from your plan. Therefore, it is still rare for a creditor to attend the 341 meeting.
Although debtors are required by law to attend the 341 meeting, creditors are not required to attend.
Normally on the day of the meeting, there will be about ten or so debtors accompanied by their lawyers and family who will be sitting at the court waiting to attend their own meeting. Each filing group will take their turn sitting before the trustee who normally asks few questions.
A 341 meeting, under normal conditions, usually lasts about 3 to 5 minutes. Because that is not a lot of time, the trustee normally will not go into much detail and will rely on the documents already presented.
That is a good reason to consult with a bankruptcy lawyer who can prepare you up front on the complex situations that might arise in bankruptcy law, especially in those rare situations in the first hearing scheduled after you file.
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