If you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you'll have to attend a hearing called the meeting of creditors (also called the 341 hearing). What happens after your meeting of creditors depends on whether you filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and also whether the bankruptcy trustee in your case is satisfied with your bankruptcy papers.
(For more articles and Q&As on the meeting of creditors, see Nolo's The Meeting of Creditors (341 Hearing) topic area.)
Read on to learn more about what happens after your meeting of creditors.
If you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee will typically either conclude your hearing or continue it to another date if he or she requires more information or documentation from you.
In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in addition to concluding or continuing your meeting of creditors, the trustee can also try to dismiss your case at your confirmation hearing in front of the bankruptcy judge.
If the bankruptcy trustee has no further questions and is satisfied with the information provided in your bankruptcy papers and supporting documentation, he or she will conclude your meeting of creditors. This means that you don’t need to appear at another hearing in front of the bankruptcy trustee.
However, this doesn’t mean that you will receive your discharge immediately. Your creditors still have 60 days from the date of your initial meeting of creditors to object to your discharge. If no creditors object and you’ve completed all other requirements (such as completing your certificate of debtor education), then you will receive your discharge after the deadline for filing objections passes. (Learn more about the bankruptcy discharge.)
If the trustee needs more information or supporting documentation from you, he or she will usually continue the meeting of creditors to another date. If your hearing is continued, you will need to follow the trustee’s instructions and provide him or her with the requested information prior to your next hearing. If you send the documents in a timely manner and the trustee has no further questions, he or she may take the continued hearing off calendar and let you know that you do not need to appear.
Below, we discuss what happens if your Chapter 13 meeting of creditors is concluded, continued, or set for a confirmation hearing.
If the trustee concludes your Chapter 13 meeting of creditors, it means that he or she has no problems with your bankruptcy and your repayment plan. However, depending on where you live, you may still have to appear at a confirmation hearing in front of the judge before your case is finalized.
In that case, the confirmation hearing will usually be a simple hearing where the trustee will tell the judge that your case should be confirmed (approved). The trustee will let you know whether you need to appear at the confirmation hearing. If your case is confirmed, then you simply need to make monthly payments according to your repayment plan until it is paid off (usually three to five years) before you can receive your discharge. (For more on the confirmation hearing, see The Chapter 13 Confirmation Hearing.)
Similar to Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee can continue your meeting of creditors to another date if he or she needs more information or documentation from you. The trustee will let you know exactly what he or she requires at the hearing. After you provide the necessary information, the trustee may take the next hearing off calendar if he or she is satisfied with everything.
If the trustee believes your Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not feasible or can’t easily be fixed with a continuance, he or she will typically ask the judge to dismiss your case at the confirmation hearing. At the meeting of creditors, the trustee will let you know his or her objections to confirmation of your bankruptcy.
As a result, you usually still have time to make the necessary changes prior to the confirmation hearing. But if the trustee still wants to dismiss your bankruptcy, you will need to argue and explain to the judge why the trustee is wrong and your case should be confirmed.
(To learn more about the requirements for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and the Chapter 13 repayment plan, see Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.)