Your 341 Meeting of Creditors will be at the Federal Courthouse
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Many consumers considering bankruptcy stress about the prospect of going to court. Most occasions that land you in court are not good news – traffic tickets, divorce court, etc. But, rest assured, the bankruptcy court should not cause you any anxiety. One of the requirements of the bankruptcy process that often sparks concerns is the 341 Meeting of Creditors. We often get questions from clients worried that their creditors will show up and grill them or make them feel terrible about their debts. Here are answers to five of the most frequently asked questions we get about the 341 Meeting of Creditors to ease your mind.
#1 What should you bring to the 341 Meeting of Creditors?
When you show up for any court mandated appearance during your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you should always bring two forms of identification. You need a photo ID card such as your North Carolina driver's license, state ID card or your military ID. You need a second ID, which confirms your social security number such as your SS card or a W-2. Your attorney may also want you to bring other records including a pay stub, most recent tax return, title to your vehicle and other documents. Also, be aware of the things you cannot bring with you. Because you'll be in a Federal courthouse, you can't take your cellphone, laptop or tablet with you – leave these in your car.
#2 Where is the 341 Meeting of Creditors Held?
All of your official hearings will be held at the Federal Courthouse in the District where you filed. If you file in the Middle District, you will be at the Federal courthouse in Greensboro. For the Western District, it will be the Federal Courthouse in either Charlotte, Asheville, Statesville or Shelby. For the Eastern District, you will go to the Federal courthouse in Raleigh, Greenville, New Bern, Wilmington or Fayetteville. The meeting will not be held in a courtroom but a meeting room. The Trustee assigned to your case will likely conduct one meeting after another so you may be waiting in a room with other bankruptcy filers and their attorneys.
#3 Who Is Present at the 341 Meeting of Creditors?
The Trustee organizes and runs the meeting so they will be there the entire time. There will be other debtors and their attorneys who will leave when their session is done. It is very rare that a creditor will show up to a meeting. If a creditor does show up, odds are it will be a representative for your mortgage lender, auto lender or Homeowner's Association (if you are behind on HOA fees). Lenders for secured debts like your home or auto may show up to find out if you intend to keep the asset and continue paying on the debt. Only more aggressive HOAs will send a representative. It is rare for creditors to put in an appearance.
#4 What Happens at the 341 Meeting of Creditors?
When it's your turn, you and your attorney will sit at a table with or near the Trustee – this is an informal setting. The Trustee will ask you questions. If you're not sure about an answer, you can consult your attorney. Your attorney will likely answer some questions on your behalf. The Trustee will ask questions like these:
- Why are you filing bankruptcy?
- Is your paperwork accurate?
- Have you sold or transferred any assets?
- Have you paid back money recently to friends or relatives?
- What's your marital status?
- Do you have kids?
- Do you pay alimony, child support, etc.?
- Are you current on your taxes?
- What are your current income and expenses?
These questions will all be asked calmly and factually – no accusations and no angst. If a creditor shows up, they may ask what your intentions are with your vehicle if there is a loan on it or your home if you are behind on your mortgage. This meeting goes very quickly and is very low stress.
#5 What Happens After Your 341 Meeting of Creditors?
If there is information missing from your file such as supporting documents, tax returns, confirmation of income, etc., your Trustee may reschedule a follow-up meeting. This is rare. You must next complete the required Debtor Education Course (if you have not already done so). This course is a requirement to complete before you can receive your discharge – and can be helpful in learning how to budget so you can make the most of your fresh financial start. If you filed a Chapter 7, the course should be done ASAP. For a Chapter 13, you'll have a bit more time, but it's best to do it right away. For Chapter 7 filers, you will get your discharge in about 60 days after the 341 Meeting.
To find out more about the debt relief and peace of mind offered by bankruptcy, contact the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt. Call +1-919-646-2654 today for a free North Carolina bankruptcy consultation in Raleigh, Greensboro, Fayetteville, Garner, Wilson or Durham.