When a debtor files bankruptcy they will be required to attend a meeting of the creditors. The meeting of creditors is commonly referred to as the 341 meeting because the meeting is required under section 341 of the bankruptcy code. Clients will commonly ask us, do I have to attend the meeting of creditors. Most often, often creditors will not show up at the 341 Meeting. However, the answer to, do I have to attend the meeting of creditors is a big yes. Under bankruptcy law, attendance at the 341 meeting is mandatory. Failure to attend the meeting can result in your case being dismissed. See In Re Lewis. Debtors are allowed to have their bankruptcy lawyer present with them at the meeting. If you filed for bankruptcy it is strongly recommended to have your bankruptcy attorney present with you.
Do I Have to Attend the Meeting of Creditors if I am a Creditor in the Case
The answer to, do I have to attend the meeting of creditors if I am a creditor is different than if you the debtor. Creditors are not required but do have the option of being at the meeting. Usually, if creditors do attend they will hire an attorney to appear on their behalf. However, creditors are usually most concerned with asset evaluation and location; as most Chapter 7 cases are low- or no-asset cases, the value of hiring counsel to attend the 341 meeting is usually more expensive than any benefit the creditor would obtain by being present. Therefore, you might expect your Chapter 341 hearing to be a small meeting between you, your attorney, and the bankruptcy trustee (click here for more information on the bankruptcy trustee).
If you have any personal creditors, they will have the opportunity to attend as well. A common is example are family members you borrowed money from. Whether or not these personal creditors decide to show up is much more unpredictable. If creditors do show to your 341 Meeting of the Creditors, they, in addition to the Trustee, they will have the right to ask you questions.
How to Prepare for the Meeting of Creditors
As we mentioned, as part of your case you do have to attend a meeting of creditors. During your 341 meeting, you can expect to be asked a “yes” or “no” questions by the bankruptcy Trustee. This means that all of your answers will be under oath and you will need to be entirely honest. Your bankruptcy attorney will be present to make sure all of the questions asked are proper. Additionally, your bankruptcy lawyer should advise you on other important legal concerns. One potential concern is whether to the Fifth to avoid answering a question which can create criminal liability. See the United States Constitution. Hopefully, this will not be the case, as criminal activity in your bankruptcy could rise to elements of fraud which might affect your ability to have a successful bankruptcy discharge.
If you believe there is potential criminal liability, you should fully disclose all of this information to your bankruptcy lawyer prior to filing for bankruptcy.
You will need to bring your driver’s license (or other state-issued, non-expired identification) as well as your social security card to the meeting of the creditors. We suggest to arrive early, to allow time to find your room and confer with your bankruptcy lawyer. Remember that this is a fairly informal proceeding, but you will still want to dress professionally and act respectfully in the meeting.
How long is the Meeting of Creditors
The U.S. trustee will oversee the meeting of creditors you have to attend. Often times, bankruptcy trustees are expected to schedule five hearings for each half-hour slot on their schedule. This means that typically, these hearings are not long. However, should the trustee discover something that needs further questioning, they will hold the hearing as long as needed to resolve any outstanding questions that he or she has on your assets or information on your filing. If necessary, the trustee can even continue the 341 meeting for a later date.
From the date of the 341 meeting, your creditors will have 60 days, to file challenges to your case. If this does not happen and there are no other complications in your case, you can expect your notification of discharge about ninety days, or three months, from the date of the 341 meeting. This is why it is a good idea to have your debtor education course completed prior to your 341 meeting; not having this class completed will stop the Court from issuing a notice of discharge. Although it is not mandatory that the counseling be completed before the 341 meeting, it is recommended.
Bankruptcy Law Firm in Tampa
If you are unsure about do I have to attend the meeting of creditors contact a bankruptcy attorney for assistance. For more information about the 341 meeting or other bankruptcy issues call us today to speak with a bankruptcy attorney in Tampa. Florida Law Advisers, P.A. is dedicated to providing effective representation and affordable fees to our bankruptcy clients. All of our initial consultations are free and convenient payment plans are always available. Call us now at 800 990 7763 to speak with a Tampa bankruptcy lawyer.