What is a 341 Meeting?
When an individual files for a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, one of the first things to happen is a 341 meeting or a meeting of creditors. The meeting is run by the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case. Creditors can also attend, ask questions, review the bankruptcy plan, and assess the person’s ability to pay their debts.
Attendance of the creditors and their attorneys is optional, and creditors might not attend.
Before getting into what a 341 meeting is, several other terms need to be defined as well.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy refers to chapter 7 of Title 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as a “straight” or “liquidation” bankruptcy. A trustee is appointed by the court to liquidate all non-exempt assets to pay off creditors. Creditors are paid off in a specific order, with unsecured priority debt such as taxes and child support paid first, then secured debt, followed by unsecured nonpriority debt.
After the funds are exhausted, the remaining debt may be discharged.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 is generally utilized by people who have significant income and want to protect their property. In a chapter 13 bankruptcy, total debt cannot exceed a certain amount, and the person must prove that they have the means to support their household while still paying off their obligations according to their payment plan over a 3 to 5 year period. Unlike a chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee does not liquidate assets but rather will review your financial situation and have the opportunity to object to your proposed plan of repayment.
A trustee is a person named by a court to oversee assets and represent another person or organization’s estate. In chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee oversees all non-exempt assets’ liquidation to maximize the return of debts owed to unsecured creditors. Under chapter 13, the trustee reviews the debtor’s repayment plan and acts as the dispersal agent. The trustee collects the monthly payments as outlined in the repayment plan and distributes funds to the creditors.
It is important to note that while the trustee is overseeing the assets of the person filing, they do not represent the debtor. Nor do they represent the creditors. A trustee is an unbiased third party whose job is to be fair to the person filing while also maximizing the amount paid to creditors.
A 341 Meeting
The 341 meeting, named after the bankruptcy code section that describes the meeting, takes place about a month after the bankruptcy has been filed. By the time of the meeting, the trustee assigned to the case has already reviewed the filing and the financial records of the person filing. In a chapter 13 case, the trustee and creditors also review the proposed repayment plan, question the debtor, object to the plan, and suggest modifications.
During the meeting, the debtor is required to prove their identity, assets, and income. The person filing must show and confirm that they have listed all of the assets and income. They must also disclose any potential income, such as a tax refund, pending lawsuit, or if they are a beneficiary of an estate. If the person who is filing for bankruptcy owns a business, they must show assets, liabilities, and potential income from the business.
While the person filing for bankruptcy will answer questions under oath, a 341 meeting is not a court hearing. The bankruptcy judge is not in attendance, no final decisions are made, and the trustee cannot resolve any issues.
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