If you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you'll have to attend a hearing called the meeting of creditors (or 341 hearing). What happens after your meeting of creditors depends on whether you filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, whether the bankruptcy trustee in your case is satisfied with your bankruptcy papers, and whether a creditor needs additional time for questioning.
(For more articles and Q&As on the meeting of creditors, see 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 or 13 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee—the official selected to manage your case—will typically either conclude your hearing or continue it to another date if more information or documentation is required from you. (Learn about the bankruptcy trustee.)
Here’s what you can expect if your trustee concludes or continues your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case at the meeting of creditors.
If the bankruptcy trustee has no further questions and is satisfied with the information provided in your bankruptcy papers and supporting documentation—and any creditors who might have appeared are satisfied, as well—the trustee will conclude your meeting of creditors. You won’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 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 filing your certificate of debtor education), then you’ll receive your discharge after the deadline for filing objections passes. (Learn more about the bankruptcy discharge.)
There are several reasons why the trustee might continue your meeting of creditors to a different date, including:
If your hearing is continued for documentation, you’ll need to follow the trustee’s instructions and provide him or her 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.
You can expect one of the following events to occur after a 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 there are 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 for any of the reasons discussed above. The trustee will let you know exactly what’s required at the hearing. After you provide the necessary information, the trustee may take the next hearing off calendar if he or she is satisfied. If a creditor wants more time with you, you can expect the continued hearing to go forward.
When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’re responsible for filing a proposed repayment plan that sets forth the amount you’ll pay each creditor. You’ll file it before your meeting of creditors, so, if the trustee sees a problem, it will likely be brought up at the meeting of creditors. Many times such issues get resolved informally.
If, however, 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. Any creditor can file a similar motion asking for a dismissal, too. (A plan might not be feasible if you don’t have enough income to repay your creditors or if a creditor is legally entitled to more than what you’re offering in the plan.)
If you can resolve the problem, you’ll do so. Then you’ll explain the steps you’ve 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.
Many times, the trustee or creditor will agree to appropriate changes and withdraw the motion. If, however, someone still objects to your plan, you’ll need to argue and explain to the judge why 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.)