Everyone who files for Chapters 7 and 13 must attend a hearing called the 341 meeting of creditors. Here's what happens after the initial meeting of creditors:
What happens after the trustee concludes the meeting will depend on whether it's a Chapter 7 or 13 case.
The 341 hearing is similar in Chapters 7 and 13. The bankruptcy trustee, the person who manages your case, usually concludes or ends the hearing the same day you appear. However, that's not always the case.
If the trustee continues your 341 meeting of creditors to a different date, it will likely be for one of these reasons:
If the trustee continues your hearing for documentation, it's a good idea to provide the trustee with the requested information before your next hearing. If you send the documents promptly and the trustee has no further questions, the trustee might cancel the continued hearing and let you know that you don't need to appear.
The bankruptcy trustee will conclude your 341 meeting of creditors when the trustee has no further questions, is satisfied with your supporting documentation, and has given creditors a reasonable amount of time to ask questions. You won't need to appear before the bankruptcy trustee at another hearing.
You won't immediately receive your Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge. You'll need to meet two additional requirements.
If no creditors object and you've filed your certificate of debtor education, then you'll receive your discharge after the deadline for filing objections passes.
The bankruptcy court closes the case a few days later in most instances. However, the case might remain open longer if the trustee needs more time to sell property or the bankruptcy court hasn't resolved an issue unrelated to your discharge.
Chapter 13 filers have a lot more to do after the trustee concludes the 341 meeting of creditors. If the bankruptcy court approves your proposed plan, you'll complete the payments and comply with other requirements.
When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you're responsible for filing a proposed repayment plan that spells out the amount you'll pay each creditor. Because you'll file it before the creditors' meeting, if the trustee sees a problem, it will likely be brought up at the creditors' meeting. Many times such issues get resolved informally.
If the trustee believes your Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan isn't feasible, the trustee will typically ask the judge to dismiss your case. The trustee does this by filing a motion with the court. A creditor can file a dismissal motion, too—usually because a creditor is legally entitled to more than what you're offering in the plan.
If you can resolve the problem, you'll explain the steps taken in the motion opposition paperwork that you'll file before your confirmation hearing—the hearing at which the judge decides whether your Chapter 13 case can go forward.
The trustee or creditor will often agree to appropriate changes and withdraw the motion. If someone still objects to your plan, you'll need to explain why your plan should be confirmed to the judge.
You or your lawyer should plan to appear at a confirmation hearing. At the confirmation hearing, the judge will consider filings, listen to arguments, and decide whether your plan should be "confirmed" or approved.
The judge must approve any agreements or stipulations to resolve objections to your plan, and decide any disputes that can't be worked out. The judge might take evidence, if necessary.
Confirmation hearings rarely take longer than 30 minutes but could last up to a day in complicated matters.
If your case is confirmed, you'll continue making the monthly payments you started paying about a month after filing your matter. Depending on the Chapter 13 confirmation hearing's outcome, the bankruptcy judge might adjust the payment amount at the confirmation hearing. If the judge doesn't confirm the plan and doesn't give you additional time to revise it, the trustee will return your payments, with some exceptions.
If the court confirms your plan, you'll receive your discharge after completing your three- to five-year plan and the debtor education course. You might also need to report the status of support payments and other issues on local forms.
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