Every person who files a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jacksonville must comply with section 341(a) of the United States Bankruptcy Code, which requires you to meet with creditors and the bankruptcy trustee. This meeting is known as the “Meeting of Creditors,” or the “341 Meeting.”
This mandatory meeting occurs early in the bankruptcy process–about five weeks after the case is filed. It is the opportunity for the trustee and your creditors to ask questions and clarify the information disclosed in your schedules. Attendance at the Jacksonville bankruptcy 341 Meeting is mandatory, and failure to attend could result in a denial of your discharge.
The Role of the 341 Hearing
The 341 Meeting is a mandatory “hearing” in every type of bankruptcy case. At this meeting, you’ll appear and answer questions under oath. These questions involve details about the bankruptcy petition and your assets and debts.
Besides you, your attorney, and the trustee, interested creditors may also be present at the meeting. It is exceedingly rare that a creditor will make an appearance because the trustee will ask most of the relevant questions. If a creditor does appear, the questions are typically limited to whether the debtor intends to keep or surrender collateral (such as a car).
While these meetings are a formal part of the bankruptcy process, the bankruptcy judge is not present. Instead, the trustee appointed to the case will oversee the meeting and facilitate questions from any creditors that might appear.
Expectations for a 341 Meeting in Jacksonville
Many first-time bankruptcy filers find the prospect of a 341 Meeting intimidating. After all, few people are interested in answering pointed questions from their creditors about their assets or other debts. Having an experienced local attorney at your side is not only smart, but it helps you understand exactly what to expect from a 341 Meeting.
These meetings are often informal. While creditors are invited to attend, it is not uncommon for creditors to pass on this opportunity. The rules of these meetings limit the number of questions creditors can pose, sometimes making it not worth their while to attend.
The bulk of these meetings involve a discussion with the trustee. This process is more of a conversation than an interrogation in most cases, with the trustee attempting to get a clear picture of a debtor’s financial position. This may not be the case if the trustee or creditors suspect fraud or incomplete disclosure.
It is actually rare that something bad happens at the 341 Meeting, especially if you follow these two simple rules: Don’t lie, and don’t volunteer information not specifically requested. The first rule is obvious, but the second rule is often ignored by well-meaning debtors worried about the first rule. However, the more debtors talk in the 341 Meeting, the greater the opportunity for the trustee to scrutinize the debtor’s words. So, if the trustee asks you what time it is, don’t explain how a clock works. Don’t overthink. Just answer the question.
After The Meeting
In Jacksonville, if everything goes smoothly at the 341 Meeting, the bankruptcy case will proceed. In some cases, the trustee will require additional documentation. It is possible that the trustee disagrees with an aspect of the petition or believes that an asset left out of the estate should be included. Given that the trustee may object to discharge if these issues are not addressed, some 341 Meetings inevitably require a need to amended the debtor’s schedules, which a lawyer in the area could help a debtor complete.
Discuss a Jacksonville Bankruptcy 341 Meeting with an Attorney
A 341 hearing does not have to be a stressful event. However, the failure to attend these meetings can result in the denial of your discharge or the dismissal of your bankruptcy case, so it is important to prepare accordingly.
Do not take the requirements of a Jacksonville bankruptcy 341 Meeting lightly. Discuss this part of the process with an experienced attorney right away by setting up a confidential consultation.