Every individual who files a bankruptcy case is required to attend a meeting of creditors, more commonly known as a “341 Meeting” since its requirement is contained in § 341 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code (Title 11). This meeting is usually the first and only time that bankruptcy debtors meet the trustee overseeing and administering their bankruptcy case.
The Department of Justice administers consumer bankruptcy cases through Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Trustees. The mechanics of bankruptcy are an excellent example of the American Constitution’s separation of powers. The legislative branch enacts bankruptcy laws, the executive branch administers those laws using trustees, and the judicial branch interprets bankruptcy laws and settles any disputes between debtor and trustee.
Many debtors experience stress during the time leading up to their 341 meeting. But this is unnecessary. Most 341 meetings last five to ten minutes. That’s right – only five to ten minutes.
For Chapter 7 cases, the bankruptcy trustee sells or liquidates a debtor’s nonexempt property and distributes the proceeds to creditors. For Chapter 13 cases, rather than sell or liquidate assets, the bankruptcy trustee reviews a debtor’s Chapter 13 plan to verify that the debtor is paying the value of nonexempt assets through the plan. The trustee also ensures that the plan is feasible and that its provisions treat all creditors fairly and equally.
For both chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases, the appointed trustee reviews the debtor’s petition, schedules, statements, and supporting documentation, such as proof of income (pay stubs) and tax returns. The trustee is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the petition and presiding personally over the 341 hearing.
Once a bankruptcy case is filed, the clerk of the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Utah, sends a notice of the commencement of the case, as well as the time and location of the 341 meeting, to the debtor and his or her creditors.
At the meeting of creditors, the trustee verifies the debtor’s identity and questions the debtor who must answer under oath and penalty of perjury. These inquiries usually are to verify residency, current employment, and the contents of the underlying documentation filed with the bankruptcy petition.
At some point in the meeting, the trustee will ask if any creditors are present who would like to ask the debtor any questions. The majority of the time, creditors don’t bother appearing at 341 meetings because they have pre-determined the treatment of their claim in the underlying case. For a creditor to appear at a meeting of creditors in this circumstance would only incur unnecessary time and legal fees.
If a debtor fails to appear at a 341 meeting, the trustee will file a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy, and the debtor will not receive a discharge. The debtor will have to refile the bankruptcy case, which means the debtor will have to pay another filing fee of $335. Utilizing a seasoned and knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney ensures that a debtor is prepared and ready for his or her meeting of creditors. More importantly, an experienced bankruptcy attorney will make sure things are done the first time correctly while minimizing or eliminating any issues that the trustee may raise at the meeting of creditors.
Don’t let the stigma of filing bankruptcy stop you from taking advantage of the benefits and protections afforded by federal law! Sleep at night, knowing that your family has a better future. An experienced bankruptcy – debt solution – attorney like Theron Morrison cares about protecting your rights. Talk to the Morrison Law Group about your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy options. Call 801.456.9933 today to schedule a FREE consultation. We are Utah’s only statewide bankruptcy law firm and have locations in Ogden, Logan, Sandy, and St. George to serve the residents of the counties of Weber, Cache, Salt Lake, Utah, Morgan, Davis, Washington, and surrounding areas.