Do I have to appear in court? What is the Meeting of Creditors or 341 meeting?
Do I have to appear in front of a Judge for my bankruptcy?
No. The Judge does oversee the bankruptcy process; however you are not required to appear in front of him. Depending on your specific case, your attorney may need to appear in front of the Judge for certain motions or objections that may arise, but you do not need to attend.
So do I have to go to court at all for my bankruptcy?
Yes. One time during your bankruptcy you are required to appear in front of a trustee who has been assigned to your case. This appearance is often referred to as the “meeting of creditors”.
What happens at the meeting of creditors?
The meeting of creditors is required under 11 USC §341 of the United States Code. This meeting is required in order to receive your discharge under both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies.
At the meeting the trustee will ask you questions under oath. There are some required questions and other questions will be asked depending on what you have listed on your petition, schedules, statements, and related documents. Generally, the questions are aimed towards verifying information you have listed (i.e. Are all of your creditors listed? Is your income still the same at it was on the date the petition was filed?).
If you were honest and reviewed for accuracy your documents before they were filled with the court, then you will have nothing to worry about at this meeting.
Are my creditors going to show up and tell me that I have to pay them back?
Yes and no. Can creditors show up at your meeting of creditors? Yes, but they usually do not. Even if some of your creditors do show up, they cannot come and tell you to pay them back. Their appearance is permitted to allow them to ask you questions about your income, assets, etc. Again however, appearance by creditors is rare.
Who is the trustee and what does he do?
The trustee is appointed by the United States trustee, an officer of the Department of Justice, who oversees the bankruptcy. The trustees’ role is to determine whether there are assets that can be liquidated for the creditors’ benefit. They are essential appointed to make sure your bankruptcy complies with the bankruptcy code and that you have disclosed all income and property and that those items do not exceed that which is allowed in the bankruptcy in order to receive a discharge.
The meeting is nothing to be worried about. If you have been thorough and completed your forms honestly and accurately, then this will be a breeze. Show up on time with your ID and SS card and the rest is easy!