What to expect after filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Soon after you file your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the court will schedule a 341 Meeting, aka the “meeting of creditors.” It has to take place at least 21 days after you file, but no later than 40 days after you file for chapter 7 bankruptcy. You must attend or your bankruptcy case can be dismissed.
Information about the Section 341 Meeting of Creditors
The meeting will take place in a room, sometimes at the courthouse and sometime at other places, like the U.S. Trustee’s Office at the Bank of America Building in Little Rock. It will be a public place, but most likely the only other people there will be lawyers and people who are filing bankruptcy – creditors do not usually show up.
Who Attends the Meeting?
There will not be a Judge present. Your Chapter 7 bankruptcy Trustee will be there and will be the person conducting the meeting. Creditors usually will not show up for a 341 Meeting because they are not required to attend. But there situations where creditors may attend. For example, if you have a boat that you did not list on your petition for bankruptcy, the creditors will attend to find the location of the property. If you have secured property (property they can take back if you don’t pay, like cars or homes) then creditors may attend if you have not already communicated whether or not you are going to keep it or explained to them the condition of the property.
What Should You Bring to the Meeting?
You must bring a photo ID (driver’s license or other government-issued ID) and your Social Security card or other government document containing your Social Security number (W-2s, tax returns, Military ID). It is best you have your Social Security card, so if you are thinking about filing bankruptcy and can’t find it, order a replacement. Without these documents, the 341 Meeting cannot be conducted and you will have to reschedule the meeting.
Before the meeting, make sure you have sent the following documents to your lawyer:
- Tax returns
- Property tax statements
- Pay stubs
What Questions Will be Asked at the Meeting?
Prior to the meeting the trustee will have reviewed your paperwork, income, debts, expenses, tax returns, and paystubs. The Chapter 7 Trustee’s main job is to sell nonexempt property to repay your unsecured creditors. The trustee also does the following things:
- Searches for bankruptcy fraud
- Makes sure the paperwork is accurate
- Conducts an investigation into your property and finances
Because most of the fact-finding is done at the meeting of creditors, the Trustee will ask you questions that help him or her determine the facts, such as:
- Do you have photo identification and your social security card?
- Have your read the Statement of Information required by U.S.C § 341?
- Did you review, read, and sign the bankruptcy documents prepared by your attorney?
- Did you disclose all your creditors?
- Did you disclose all your property?
- Have you paid more than $600 to any unsecured creditor within the last 90 days?
- Within the last year have you disposed of any property by sale, gift, or in any other way?
- Within the last 3 years have you forgiven any debt owed to you by anyone?
- Within the last 3 years have you forgiven any debt owed by a relative?
- Have you transferred any property to a relative within 1 year?
- Do you have a claim for damages against anyone for injuries to you for any accident with the last year?
- Do you expect to receive an inheritance from anyone who has died?
- If you do receive an inheritance with the next 6 months will you notify the trustee and your lawyer?
Remember that you will under oath so you must answer all questions truthfully or you may be subject to perjury charges.
What Occurs After the Meeting?
The hearing could be continued at a later date for the following reasons:
- You need to provide more information to the trustee
- You are missing required documents
- You must amend your paperwork
You must have also completed a credit counseling briefing prior to filing and the required debtor-education course before your debts can be discharged. This should be completed as soon as possible so you can complete your bankruptcy case. As long as your creditors do not object to the discharge of your debts, you will receive your discharge order approximately 60 days after the meeting of creditors.
If you have questions about chapter 7 bankruptcy (or bankruptcy in general), we will be happy to chat. Feel free to contact us.