For most people the idea of going to Court creates anxiety and stress. Not everyone is used to appearing before a Judge, or even passing though security. Bankruptcy Court is not like civil or criminal court though, and the process is pretty straightforward. In the majority of bankruptcy cases filed, the debtor never sees the Judge and only has to appear one time for an informal meeting.
After a bankruptcy case is filed, the Court will set a date for a 341 meeting. This meeting is an opportunity for any creditors to ask questions, and the questions are usually along the lines of “do you plan to keep your car?” Present at this meeting are your attorney, yourself and any joint filer, and the Court appointed Trustee. Here is how it works:
- You will be sworn in, where you state the answers you provide will be truthful.
- Your attorney will ask a few simple questions, including asking you to state your name and the cause of your bankruptcy (the cause of your bankruptcy is typically just that your income is insufficient to pay all your bills, or that you have incurred large medical or credit card expenses that you can no longer afford).
- You will be asked if you incurred any debt with the intention of not repaying it and if you have provided all the necessary information to your attorney to prepare your bankruptcy for filing.
The Trustee will have reviewed all the documents prior to the hearing, or take a few moments to do so at the 341 meeting. The documents usually include pay stubs, proof of identity, and titles to any vehicles or proof of ownership of other assets. The Trustee usually doesn’t have any further questions, unless you were unable to locate any of these documents prior to the hearing. If that happens, you can provide them to your attorney afterwards and not be required to reappear at another 341 meeting. Creditors can also ask you questions at this time, which are generally just fact finding questions to learn what you intend to do regarding their specific debt. Sometimes you have made the decision to return a piece of collateral and no longer make the payments, or in some instances you have decided to continue paying and this is the time to advise the lender of that decision. The 341 meeting is informal and does not last long. That said, we do not take your concerns about appearing lightly, and answer all your questions prior to the 341 meeting date so you are prepared and know what to expect.
If you are having a hard time paying your bills, consider the option of bankruptcy. We will explain your options and make sure you are ready for your case. Call a Bloomington, Minnesota bankruptcy attorney today.