When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must attend a mandatory hearing called the meeting of creditors before you can receive a discharge. Generally, this is a short hearing where the bankruptcy trustee and your creditors can ask you questions about your financial affairs and the information in your bankruptcy papers. Read on to learn more about what happens at a Chapter 7 meeting of creditors.
To learn more about Chapter 7 bankruptcy, visit Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.
What Is the Purpose of the Chapter 7 Meeting of Creditors?
The Chapter 7 meeting of creditors (sometimes called the 341 hearing) is where the bankruptcy trustee and your creditors get to ask you questions about your bankruptcy petition while you are under oath. The meeting of creditors is essentially a hearing used to verify that the information contained in your bankruptcy papers is accurate and complete.
Who Will Be at Your Chapter 7 Meeting of Creditors?
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee appointed in your case will conduct your meeting of creditors. This means that there is no judge presiding over the meeting of creditors. In fact, most Chapter 7 debtors do not see a judge unless they are reaffirming a debt or facing an objection to discharge.
All of your creditors are invited to attend your meeting of creditors. However, they rarely come. This is because creditors have a very limited time to ask questions and will usually not benefit from coming to the meeting of creditors unless they suspect you are hiding assets or committing bankruptcy fraud.
As a result, in most cases, you will only be examined by the bankruptcy trustee. However, keep in mind that your meeting of creditors is open to the public and there are many hearings scheduled for each hour. This means that the other Chapter 7 debtors will observe your hearing while waiting for their case to be called.
The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee Will Examine You Under Oath
As discussed, there are typically multiple Chapter 7 meetings of creditors scheduled for the same hour. When your case is called, you will go up to the trustee’s desk to be examined under oath. Before your examination can begin, you will also have to provide your identification and proof of social security number to the trustee.
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee’s role at the meeting of creditors is to verify the accuracy of the information disclosed in your bankruptcy papers. Since a Chapter 7 trustee is authorized to sell your nonexempt assets to pay your creditors, most questions will usually involve your assets.
Your Creditors Are Also Allowed to Examine You
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, all of your creditors are notified of and invited to attend your meeting of creditors. If a creditor chooses to come to your hearing, it can examine you under oath as well. However, since time is limited, creditors are not allowed to conduct a lengthy examination at the meeting of creditors. Typically, creditors are only allowed to ask you about the nature and location of your assets.
The Bankruptcy Trustee Will Conclude Your Hearing If No Further Information Is Required
After the bankruptcy trustee has asked all of his or her questions, he or she will conclude your hearing if no further information or documentation is required from you. If the trustee concludes your hearing, it means you don’t have to come to another hearing in front of the trustee and will receive your discharge once all other requirements are met.
However, if the trustee requires further information, he or she will usually set another hearing date to allow you time to gather the necessary documentation. If you get the information to the trustee in a timely manner, he or she may take the next hearing off calendar without you having to attend. But if the trustee has more questions, you will have to go to the next hearing to be examined further.
To learn more about the bankruptcy process, see Bankruptcy Filing and Procedure.