Will I have to go to court if I file bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers will have to attend a meeting called the Meeting of the Creditors or the 341 Hearing. Although you will have to answer questions under oath, this meeting is nothing like the court appearances for a criminal trial you see on television where the prosecuting attorney and the defense lawyer battle it out while you sit petrified on the witness stand.
The Meeting of the Creditors is simply a court proceeding where creditors and the trustee have the opportunity to ask you questions about your financial affairs while you are under oath. The goal of the meeting is to get truthful information from you, the debtor, to ensure that you did not lie on your bankruptcy petition.
If you file Chapter 7 the 341 meeting will be scheduled at least 21 days but no more than 40 days after the day you file your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case. The hearing will be in a meeting room, but not usually in a courtroom. The 341 meeting is conducted by your Chapter 7 trustee, and there is not a judge present.
The meeting generally last only a few minutes. The trustee will ask you a few questions to ensure the information on your bankruptcy forms is accurate, and they will verify the information agrees with other financial documents you have provided to the court. Most questions by the trustee will be about your debts, assets, income, and expenses. For example, the trustee may ask you if the information you provided is accurate, if you disclosed all of your assets, if you listed all of your creditors and whether you have filed bankruptcy in the past.
Your Creditors Can Ask You Questions - Creditors may also be present for the 341 Meeting, although it is not unusual for most creditors not to appear. Bankruptcy law does not require them to appear. If a creditor does appear they generally ask questions about why you decided to file bankruptcy and information about your income.
You do not need a lawyer to attend a 341 Meeting, although it is recommend that you do seek legal help if you are filing Chapter 7 and want to protect your assets or you are filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
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Bankruptcy is not wrong for those who have made an honest effort to pay creditors.