One of the most common questions people ask me when meeting to talk about filing a bankruptcy case is whether they will be required to go to court. Some debtors (also called a petitioner) may be required to attend more than one bankruptcy hearing, but all individuals are required to attend at least one hearing — the First Meeting of Creditors. The Meeting of Creditors, also known as the 341 Meeting, is a mandatory hearing and cannot be waived. Failing to attend the Meeting of Creditors with your Georgia bankruptcy lawyer results in your case being dismissed.
Five Facts About The Bankruptcy Meeting Of Creditors
1. A BANKRUPTCY TRUSTEE CONDUCTS THE MEETING.
The bankruptcy trustee appointed to your case conducts the Meeting of Creditors in either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case. The trustee is responsible for administering your bankruptcy case. He or she asks questions about the information you provided in your bankruptcy forms, but the trustee may also ask other questions related to your case.
2. CREDITORS MAY APPEAR AND ASK QUESTIONS.
One of the purposes of the 341 Meeting is to allow creditors to question the petitioner regarding specific debts and assets. While creditors have the right to appear and ask questions, very few creditors appear at the Meeting of Creditors. In most cases, the debtor, the bankruptcy attorney, and the trustee are the only people who attend the hearing.
3. THERE MAY BE OTHER PEOPLE IN THE COURTROOM OR HEARING ROOM
The Meeting of Creditors is a public hearing. Therefore, other individuals may be present in the courtroom during your testimony. However, in most cases, these individuals are other debtors and their attorneys. Arriving a few minutes before your hearing allows you to watch other hearings, which can help you relax and be prepared for your hearing.
4. THE MEETING OF CREDITORS IS SHORT
In most cases, the 341 Meeting lasts about five to ten minutes. The bankruptcy trustee places you under oath and asks a series of general questions that the trustee asks each debtor. Questions that the trustee asks include:
- Did you review the bankruptcy forms filed with the court and are they accurate to the best of your knowledge?
- Do you need to make any changes to your bankruptcy forms?
- Have you sold or transferred any property within the past two years?
- Do you anticipate receiving tax refunds?
- Does anyone hold property that belongs to you?
- Do you own any real estate?
- Did you list all of your assets and debts?
- How did you arrive at the values for your assets?
- Does anyone owe you money?
- Have you ever filed for bankruptcy before?
- Do you owe any domestic support obligations (alimony or child support)?
The trustee may ask additional questions specific to your bankruptcy case. In most cases, the questions asked at the Meeting of Creditors are similar to the questions you have already answered for your bankruptcy attorney as you prepared your bankruptcy forms.
5. YOU MUST BRING IDENTIFICATION TO THE HEARING
You must have photo identification and proof of your Social Security number at the hearing. Failing to provide proof of identity typically results in your hearing being continued until another date, but the trustee could dismiss your case. A driver’s license and your original Social Security card are usually the preferred documentation for the hearing. If you do not have either of these documents, you should notify your attorney immediately.
Contact A Georgia Bankruptcy Attorney For Help
If you are struggling with debts, a bankruptcy filing may be the best option for getting out of debt. Schedule a consult with an experienced Georgia bankruptcy attorney to determine your options. Our Georgia bankruptcy attorneys can evaluate your financial situation, explain the various debt-relief options, and advise you whether a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case could be beneficial in your situation.