When a debtor files a petition for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy they will be required to attend a meeting with the creditors included in the bankruptcy. The meeting of creditors is commonly referred to as the 341 meeting because the meeting is required under section 341 of the bankruptcy code. A meeting can often create anxiety for debtors, however; the meeting is usually a very straightforward process lasting only about 5 minutes. Additionally, debtors are allowed to have their bankruptcy attorney present with them at the hearing.
When Does the Meeting of Creditors Occur?
Under bankruptcy law, the meeting of the creditors must take place between 20 and 40 days after the order for relief. The debtor will be required to attend the meeting and answer questions of the Trustee and creditors under oath. Only creditors and the Trustee will be allowed to question the debtor. The judge assigned the case and equity security holders of a debtor corporation may not attend the meeting of creditors. In most cases, creditors do not attend the 341 meeting and the Trustee will be the only party in attendance. The Trustee will typically inquire about the debtor’s income, expenses, assets, and debts. Debtors have the right to have their Tampa bankruptcy lawyer at their side during the meeting and should take full advantage of this right to ensure they are not asked any improper questions.
The 341 meeting also acts as a deadline for creditors to file complaints to determine the dischargeability of debts. Under Bankruptcy Rule 4007, the complaint must be filed within 60 days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors. If the complaint is not filed within this time, the creditor may lose its right to file the complaint.
Preparing for the Meeting of Creditors
An experienced Tampa bankruptcy lawyer will typically spend a substantial amount of time preparing his client for the 341 meeting. The Trustee will usually question the debtor about the financial information submitted on the bankruptcy petition and schedules. The Trustee’s questions will be designed to help determine if the debtor honestly and correctly represented their assets, income, and debts on the bankruptcy petition. It is imperative that debtors answer the questions accurately and truthfully at the 341 hearing. Providing false information to the Trustee or creditors at the 341 meeting can result in serious consequences for the debtor.
Failure to Attend Meeting of Creditors
If the debtor fails to attend the meeting of creditors the case may be dismissed or converted to Chapter 7. However, if the debtor can show good cause for failing to attend they may avoid a dismissal. Whether or not good cause existed will depend on the unique circumstances of each case. If you missed a meeting of creditors you should contact a Tampa bankruptcy attorney for advice right away.
Tampa Bankruptcy Law Firm
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, individualized attention, and affordable fees to our bankruptcy clients. All of our initial consultations are free and convenient payment plans are always available. Regardless if you need help with Chapter 13, Chapter 7, or other debt relief, our professional legal team will provide you with competent legal advice you can trust. Call us now at 800 990 7763 to speak with a bankruptcy attorney in Tampa.