Going to Bankruptcy Court

Every debtor in bankruptcy, regardless of the chapter, must make one court appearance, though it is not really in "court" since the judge is not present. The court schedules a meeting of creditors in each case, usually about 30 days after the filing. The meeting is nick-named the "341 meeting" after the section of the bankruptcy code that requires it.

The trustee assigned to the case presides and asks questions about the contents of the bankruptcy schedules The debtor must appear at the meeting and answer questions under oath about his assets and liabilities.

In cases where there are assets with value in excess of the available exemptions, the trustee tries to gather information to aid in his liquidation of those assets for payment to creditors. He may ask for the business records or other documents concerning the assets or the debtor's financial history.

The 341 meeting is not a test or an inquisition. Neither the trustee nor the creditors can take any action at the meeting that decides any question central to the case. It is a fact finding meeting.

Of course, if new or troubling facts come out at the meeting, the trustee or a creditor can file a motion or an adversary proceeding in the bankruptcy court for the judge's consideration. Most 341 meetings are short, sweet, and uneventful. The debtor does not have to justify filing bankruptcy. No rights are won or lost at the 341 meeting. Creditors do not have to attend the 341 meeting to file a claim or object to discharge.

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