After you’ve filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will be required to attend a mandatory hearing called a “creditors meeting” before any of your debts can be discharged. This is usually a brief hearing at which a bankruptcy trustee and your creditors will ask you questions regarding your financial situation and the information included in your bankruptcy filings. Below is a discussion of what goes on at a Chapter 7 creditors meeting:
This kind of meeting, sometimes referred to as a “341 hearing,” involves a bankruptcy trustee and your creditors questioning you regarding your bankruptcy, while you are under oath. Essentially, the meeting is a hearing whose purpose is to verify that you provided the correct and complete information in your bankruptcy filing.
Who Will Be at the Meeting
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New Mexico, a bankruptcy trustee will be assigned to your case by the bankruptcy court, and this trustee will be in charge of conducting the creditors meeting. So, there will be no judge present at the meeting. In general, most debtors who have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy do not go in front of a judge unless they need to have a reaffirmation hearing or because they face an objection to discharge.
Each one of your creditors will be invited to the creditors meeting, but it is rare that all creditors will show up. This is so because creditors are not given much time to question you, and they generally enjoy no benefit from attending the meeting, unless they think that you may be concealing assets or otherwise committing bankruptcy fraud. Most clients usually have an idea when a creditor may show up to the creditors meeting; experience suggests that the creditors that are most likely to show up are those that extended a personal loan or similar rather than a corporation extending credit like Visa or MasterCard. Make sure you tell your Albuquerque bankruptcy attorney about all your debts so that there will be no surprises at your creditors meeting.
Because of creditors’ tendency to be absent from the meetings, in the majority of cases the person who has filed for bankruptcy will be questioned only by the court-appointed bankruptcy trustee. You should bear in mind, however, that these meeting are public and there may be several hearings scheduled within the same hour. As a result, other debtors or their creditors might observe your meeting while they wait for their own to begin.
The Trustee Will Examine You Under Oath
As mentioned above, there can be several creditors meeting scheduled for different Chapter 7 debtors in the same hour. When your own meeting begins, you will proceed to the trustee’s desk for your examination. Before the trustee begins the examination however, you will need to provide your ID and proof of social security number. Also, the trustee will administer an oath to be taken by you, swearing that you will give true and correct responses to his questions and provide correct information during the meeting.
Some common questions asked by the Trustee include:
The trustee may ask additional questions depending on the individual debtor’s circumstances, or inconsistencies on the debtor’s petition.
The trustee’s function at a creditors meeting is to ensure the accuracy of any information provided by you in your bankruptcy filings. Because the trustee is authorized to make sales of your nonexempt assets in order to satisfy your debts, the majority of the questions the trustee will ask will usually involve what assets you possess.
Creditors Are Also Permitted to Examine You
Once you’ve filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, each of your creditors will be given notice of the meeting and invited to attend. If any of the creditors do attend the meeting, that creditor has the right to examine you while you are under oath. Since time is usually limited however, creditors are prevented from questioning you for lengthy periods of time. Usually, a creditor will be allowed to inquire about the location and nature of any assets you have.
The Trustee Will Conclude the Meeting If No Further Information Is Necessary
Once the trustee has asked all the questions he or she has for you, the meeting will be concluded as long as no other information or proof (such as documentation) is needed. When the hearing is concluded, you will not need to attend another hearing in front of the trustee, and you will be given your discharge as long as all the requirements have been met.
If further information is required however, the trustee will typically schedule another meeting for a later date, in order to allow you to obtain the information you need. If you deliver that information to the trustee promptly, the trustee might actually cancel the second meeting, and you will therefore not need to attend. If the trustee does have further questions for you though, you will need to attend the second meeting when it is scheduled, and be examined again by the trustee and any creditors who may choose to attend.