Just like the rest of the world, our federal government is increasingly going high-tech. New phone technology has arrived at bankruptcy court. Bankruptcy courts across the nation are starting to increase the use of a teleconferences prior to the actual 341 meeting that takes place in a Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies.
The 341 Meeting
The 341 meeting, often referred to in bankruptcy circles as The Creditor’s Meeting, requires the mandatory attendance of any bankruptcy filer. The purposes of the meeting are:
to allow any creditors to come forward and question the filer, sworn in under oath, about his or her current financial state of affairs;
to allow the bankruptcy court trustee to formally identify the filer, make sure the application of the filer is in order, and to ask the filer any pertinent questions about the financial facts of the case;
and to provide the filer with instructions about bankruptcy proceedings such as the potential consequences of bankruptcy and the availability of other options under the bankruptcy code.
Nature of 341 Meetings to Average Filer and Modern Technology Impact
For the most part, the average filer who files a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will never see their creditor at a 341 meeting. Since the overwhelming majority of Chapter 7 filings are no asset cases, most creditors do not bother to attend the meeting because they have nothing to gain. Therefore, the 341 meetings are often short, formal affairs that serve to identify the filer and satisfy the law.
With modern computer technology, most bankruptcy courts can provide more than enough information to potential filers prior to filing, so the process has been simplified through modernization. In some cases, the process has become simplified enough that filers can file Pro Se, without the help of a lawyer.
How New Phone Technology Impact on the 341 Meeting
Many District Bankruptcy Courts, like in the Middle District of Florida, are beginning to have teleconferences with a filer prior to the 341 meeting. These informal conferences serve the purpose of helping prepare the filer for what he or she faces in bankruptcy and can help the trustee make sure less errors will occur in formal paperwork the filer must prepare for the filing.
Some of the reported dealings in these teleconferences have included:
requests for information from the trustee about a filers petition;
making sure the filer understood what filing bankruptcy means to the filer;
and instructions on understanding what to expect and how to act in a 341 meeting.
The teleconference is an informal meeting held without having to take an oath, and your bankruptcy attorney can be a part of the conference. The nature of the use of this new phone technology is informative and preparatory. It has seemed to have the effect of helping to simplify the process further and assure there are less errors in the bankruptcy process.
Regardless of how much new phone technology is introduced to the bankruptcy process and how simple it becomes, most of you who are considering filing bankruptcy should still consult with a bankruptcy attorney.
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