If you are an individual filing for bankruptcy, you will have to follow a certain process, regardless of what chapter of the Bankruptcy Code you are filing under. At some point, you will have to have a meeting of your creditors before you can obtain discharge (if you are under Chapter 7) or before your case is confirmed (Chapter 13). While that meeting is usually simple, problems can arise, especially if you arrive unprepared or if you have misrepresented anything.
The Chapter 7 Meeting
The meeting is referred to as a 341 meeting, named after the that mandates it being held. In a Chapter 7 meeting, your creditors are permitted to ask questions to verify the information in your bankruptcy filing. The trustee appointed will be present and act as a referee of sorts – nothing untoward will be asked. All your creditors are invited to come if they have questions, but indeed, it is very plausible that none of them will even show up. A creditor signifies by their failure to appear that they have no issues with the information you provided or your filing as a whole.
However, even if your creditors do not appear, you will still be . Their job is to verify the accuracy of your filing, and they will do so for the record regardless of how many creditors appear. However, their examination will not be in depth, as it is extremely common for many 341 meetings to be held at once or in quick succession at the trustee’s office.
Once the trustee’s examination is concluded, he or she will conclude the meeting. If any creditor that did not appear later tries to press a claim, they will not be permitted to do so.
The Chapter 13 Meeting
The Chapter 13 meeting is somewhat similar to the Chapter 7 meeting, with a few distinct differences. While at meetings under both Chapters 7 and 13, the main purpose is to allow your creditors to examine your bankruptcy plan, the trustee in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy must also make sure that the plan is ready to be presented to the Bankruptcy Court.
While in a Chapter 7 filing, the meeting is somewhat of a formality, with a Chapter 13, the trustee must approve your plan before it is presented to the court. If they do not, it will have to be reworked. The most common reason for a bankruptcy plan to be denied is if the – or outright fraud – in the distribution of your assets to your creditors.
Keeping in this vein, when the trustee does examine you, most of their questions will likely deal with your income and finances – it is part of their obligation as a trustee to make certain you are paying what you can to your unsecured creditors. (Secured creditors have other protections.)
If the trustee has no objections, nor do any creditors, the plan will be approved. You may have to attend a hearing before a judge before you are able to exit bankruptcy, but the hard part will be done.
A Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help
If you need help putting together a bankruptcy plan that will pass muster, the bankruptcy attorneys at the Dowe Law Firm can help. We have a history of success in these cases, and we will do our best for you. We serve Contra Costa, Solano and Alameda counties.