Bankruptcy is often a good option for someone struggling with serious debts. Declaring bankruptcy can help to keep creditors off your back and give you the fresh financial start you need, want, and deserve. However, bankruptcy in New Jersey and Pennsylvania can be also be very complicated and often requires the assistance of a qualified bankruptcy attorney who can guide you through certain stages of the bankruptcy process.
One of the necessary stages of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, for instance, is the 341 meeting of creditors. When a person files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, that person’s assets are liquidated by a Chapter 7 trustee. It is the trustee’s job to ensure that any property that is not exempt from bankruptcy protection is used to pay back creditors. This means that the trustee will need to engage in a bit of fact-finding and take a close look at your finances and assets, as well as your debts. The trustee will specifically examine your bankruptcy paperwork, your Statement of Financial Affairs, and your tax returns.
At some point, you will be required to attend a meeting of creditors, also known as the 341 meeting. The bankruptcy trustee will be present at the 341 meeting, as will some of your creditors who expect to be repaid.
Here are a few things you need to know about the 341 meeting of creditors:
· The 341 meeting will occur sooner than you realize. The Bankruptcy Code mandates that the 341 meeting occur within 40 days of your filing for bankruptcy. However, you should have at least 21 days to prepare for the meeting.
· Attendance is mandatory. You must show up for the 341 meeting so that the Chapter 7 trustee can get all the information they need to administer the bankruptcy. However, keep in mind that your creditors are not required to attend the 341 meeting.
· There is no judge. Your 341 meeting of creditors will be presided over by your bankruptcy trustee. Since the 341 meeting is meant to provide the trustee with information about your assets and debts, it is the trustee who will conduct the meeting.
· You must come prepared. Although the trustee will have your bankruptcy paperwork in advance of the 341 meeting, you still need to bring certain items with you. A bankruptcy attorney may advise you to bring any or all of the following: photo ID, Social Security number, bank statements, property deeds, and mortgage documents. Failure to come fully prepared could result in the trustee rescheduling your 341 meeting, which will only serve to further delay the completion of your bankruptcy petition.
· You will be questioned. You can expect the bankruptcy trustee to ask many questions during the 341 meeting. After all, the point of the meeting is for the trustee to learn as much as possible about your financial situation and the specifics of your bankruptcy petition. The best way to avoid being nervous during the meeting is to know what to expect when questioned, so you may want to talk with your lawyer in advance and go over the possible questions and expected lines of inquiry.
Bankruptcy is a complicated process, which is why you should speak with a qualified bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible. Joel R. Spivack, Esq., is an experienced bankruptcy and debt management lawyer who can help you explore your options for getting out of debt. Contact Mr. Spivack anytime to schedule a free initial consultation.