There are a few different reasons to file for Chapter 13. Probably the first one is if you are not qualifying for the Chapter 7.
Jan. 13, 2023
What Actually Is the 341 Meeting of Creditors?
The 341 meeting of creditors refers to Title 11, Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code. That is the section that authorizes a mandatory meeting for anyone who is filing for bankruptcy protection with the trustee assigned to their case. The trustee is simply another attorney hired by the court that sits on the other side of the table and represents the interest of the creditors. Typically, the trustee’s duties involve verifying that the information in the petition that has been filed in the case is correct and, if there are any assets that are available to the creditors (which is not typical), to liquidate those assets and turn over the proceeds to the creditors.
Does The 341 Meeting Take Place For All Kinds Of Bankruptcies?
It does. Regardless of which chapter you are filing, you would be attending a 341 meeting. By far, the most common chapters of bankruptcy that are filed are chapter 7 and chapter 13. For both of those chapters, you must attend a 341 meeting. The 341 meeting is also sometimes referred to as the meeting of creditors because technically, your creditors can show up and ask questions. It’s actually not very common for creditors to show up because the creditors are limited to questions regarding the information in your petition and the petition is available to your creditors without them attending your meeting.
The petition and schedules are the documents that you file with the court to start your bankruptcy case. Because all that information is available to the creditors, it’s not very often that they decide to take the time and effort to come and ask you the same questions. Usually, the only time the creditors show up is if they disagree with something and/or think something fraudulent is going on.
Does Someone Have To Complete Any Mandatory Classes Prior To The 341 Meeting?
There are actually two mandatory classes, but just one of them has to be taken before the meeting. These “classes” amount to two separate 45-60 online sessions in which you read through some materials, answer some questions and are issued a certificate that is filed with the bankruptcy court.
The first mandatory class has to be taken before the case can be filed, and that’s for both chapter 7 and chapter 13. This is the Credit Counseling class, and there are many different companies that provide that service. Essentially, the credit counseling companies act as an independent third party to verify, separate from your attorney, that you qualify for bankruptcy and to let you know that there are alternatives to bankruptcy out there that may be available to you.
The second class you don’t take until after the case is filed and goes by two common names, either Debtor Education or Financial Management. The focus on the second class is to hopefully correct any mistakes that you might have made that led to your bankruptcy being filed. This is, typically, an online class and deals with such topics as how to make a monthly budget and how to balance a checkbook. This is the government’s attempt to ensure that people are doing these basic tasks, hopefully, to prevent mistakes that might lead to a bankruptcy filing in the future. However, most of the time, people aren’t filing bankruptcy because they are reckless spenders but because they’ve lost their job, gotten some significant illness with large medical bills or gone through a divorce and their income has changed.
What Can Someone Expect Going Into The 341 Meeting Of Creditors?
What you can expect is you’ll have to go into a federal courthouse or a designated building. For example, if you file in Minnesota in Wright County, they actually hold the 341 hearings at the Stearns County Museum as opposed to the federal courthouse because, of course, the federal courthouses in the Twin Cities metro are in Minneapolis & Saint Paul. You can expect to sit down with your lawyer and the trustee in a conference room setting. The trustee will be recording the meeting, and you will be sworn under oath and have to testify about the information in your petition.
The trustee isn’t going to go through your petition page-by-page and ask you every single question in it; instead the trustee is going to ask broader questions. If you have hired a good bankruptcy attorney, hopefully, that bankruptcy attorney has asked you those questions around the time when you first met with him/ her to flag any potential issues in your case so that if there is anything that could cause problems, you’ve come up with a strategy for the best way to deal with it. So if you have hired a good attorney, there shouldn’t be any surprises in the meeting. Typical questions are: Did you review the petition and schedules with your attorney before they were filed with the court? Is all the information in the petition and schedules true and correct to the best of your knowledge? Have you listed all of your assets? Did you list all of your debts?
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The three common triggers for bankruptcy are unemployment, medical expenses, and divorce. Unemployment can trigger bankruptcy, which is pretty straightforward.
The trustee has a duty to conduct due diligence, and that basically means reviewing the documents that are filed by the debtor and then holding a hearing called a Section 341 hearing in which the trustee asks some standard questions of the debtor.