Chapter 7 - 341(A) Meeting Of Creditors - Your First (And Generally) Only Meeting

February 16, 2012
Barrios Machado
One of debtors' fears when filing for bankruptcy is the fact that they must attend a hearing (sometimes in a courthouse, other times in an office building), but most find that the actual appearance at this hearing is the most "pleasant, pain-free experience" experience of all (except for sometimes finding parking).
When you file for Chapter 7 (or Chapter 13 for that matter), you will be required to attend what is a called a "Meeting of Creditors" (341(a) hearing) where your creditors have an opportunity to examine you. Not to worry, it is not a physical examination (unless assets you are trying to conceal are found within your body cavity! ouch!)

One truly needn't worry about the chances of a creditor showing to these meetings because most of the time they don't (unless they have some reason to show, such as to contest the existence of assets available to pay the debt). I'll say it again, 9.5 out of 10 ten times, creditors do not show to this hearing.

Instead, what normally happens, inside of a generally packed hall of many other debtors patiently awaiting their turn, is the following:
The debtor is asked a series of questions by the bankrptucy trustee, the person appointed by the Court to administer the bankruptcy estate and to protect any creditor interests.
After confirming social security number (must have social security card or its equivalent in hand) and valid picture ID, the questions that are usually asked by the trustee include:
1) Have you ever filed for bankrutpcy before? (Yes/No)
2) Have you read, understood and signed your bankruptcy petition? (Yes)
3) Have you included all your assets and all your liabilities on the petition? (Yes)
4) Did you read the pamphlet? (Yes)

Sometimes, depending on the complexity of the case, that could sum up the questioning and end the meeting. That is what a debtor hopes for and is most often the case when guided properly by qualified bankruptcy attorneys. Like I tell all my clients: their case is generally won long before we file. Meaning, we know what types of cases meet with success in the court. Since the preparation of our petitions is held to the highest standards, we are always greeted in the court with coutesy, affection and respect. This means a smooth transtition for our client from debtor to debt-free.

After the meeting (which generally takes less than 1 minute), the debtor is free to go and should anticipate their certificate of discharge within 3-4 months.
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