At Modestas Law Offices, our bankruptcy clients frequently ask what to expect at the meeting of creditors that takes place after the bankruptcy filing. Often, clients are nervous or worried about the process, but in most cases the meeting goes smoothly and quickly. Understanding what the meeting is and knowing what to expect will alleviate a lot of the concern you feel ahead of time.
Within a fairly short time after a petition for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is filed, the bankruptcy court sends notice to the petitioner and all parties, including creditors, of the time and place for the meeting of creditors. The meeting is sometimes referred to as the “341 meeting,” because it is required by Section 341 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
While the process is called the “meeting of creditors,” the meeting is primarily a discussion about your case between you and the bankruptcy trustee, with your attorney present. Often, creditors do not even attend.
Attendance at the meeting of creditors is mandatory for the person(s) filing for bankruptcy. If you and your spouse filed jointly, both of you must attend. In Chapter 7 cases, it often is the only required appearance you will have to make. The hearing notice is sent with several weeks’ advance notice, so you will have time to plan ahead.
No. The meeting is held in a hearing room, rather than a formal courtroom. The meeting is not a court hearing, but you will be placed under oath to answer questions from the trustee. If any creditors attend, they will be able to ask questions as well.
You need to bring identification, including your driver’s license or state identification card and Social Security card or another document showing your Social Security number, like a pay stub. Occasionally, you may be asked to bring recent bank statements, pay stubs, or other information.
There will be several other meetings of creditors scheduled at the same time as your meeting. Cases will be called one-by-one according to a schedule.
Whether others are present during your meeting depends on the location of your meeting. At some locations, no one else is present. At other locations, other people will be present. But most likely, they will not be paying much attention. They just want things to go quickly, so their case can be called and they can leave.
No, since it is not a formal proceeding, you do not need to dress up. We advise clients to dress comfortably, but plainly.
The meeting is run by the bankruptcy trustee, who is appointed by the bankruptcy court to oversee your case, conduct the meetings of creditors, and administer any assets.
You and your attorney attend the meeting together.
Your creditors receive notice of the hearing at the same time you do. In a typical consumer case, no creditors will be present. In a business bankruptcy or in a personal bankruptcy with a lot of business-related debt, it is common for creditors or their attorneys to be present. Usually, your attorney will be able to advise you if any creditors are likely to attend your meeting.
The bankruptcy judge is not present at the meeting of creditors.
When your case is called, your identification will be checked. You will raise your hand and take an oath to tell the truth. You will sit at a table with your attorney and the trustee.
The trustee will review your petition, schedules, and other documents prior to the meeting. After you are sworn in, the trustee will ask you a variety of questions, such as verifying your signature on the bankruptcy documents and confirming that no changes are needed. Then the trustee will go through the petition and schedules to verify the information about your assets and liabilities, income and expenses, and related topics.
The trustee may ask whether you expect to get any money in the future, including from a lawsuit, inheritance, or tax refund. The trustee may also ask what happened to any assets you used to have but sold or transferred within the last couple years.
When the trustee has finished asking questions, any creditors who are present will be allowed to ask questions about your finances and property.
When the questioning is finished, the trustee will conclude the meeting. In rare cases when investigation or more documents are necessary, the trustee can continue the meeting to another date. In most cases, the meeting will be concluded with finality.
No. Your attorney is not permitted to answer for you. He or she will go over everything ahead of time to prepare you for the meeting and the trustee’s questions. Your attorney likely will be able to predict the areas of the trustee’s inquiries in advance.
You may have to wait for your meeting to be called. Once it is called, the meeting usually will last about 10 minutes. Sometimes, it even takes less time than that.
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, assuming there is no reason for a continuance and the trustee concludes the meeting, you will wait about 60 days for the discharge order to be entered and the case to close. In a Chapter 13 case, there will be a court hearing about a month after the meeting, where the bankruptcy judge will decide whether your repayment plan will be approved and confirmed by the bankruptcy court.
Modestas Law Offices assists clients with Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. We serve Illinois clients in Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, and Will County. To accommodate clients who are busy during weekdays, we are available to meet in the evening and on weekends.
Contact us to schedule your initial free consultation.