Section 341 Meeting of Creditors
Once our Montgomery bankruptcy lawyers file a bankruptcy petition the automatic stay takes effect. The automatic stay could be considered an injunction which prevents your creditors from contacting you, suing you, or taking any other action to try to collect money from you. One of the most important functions of the automatic stay is to prevent a repossession of an automobile or the foreclosure of a home. Once the bankruptcy petition is filed, a trustee is assigned to the case. The trustee will examine all the documents that are filed in the case, and then determine the course of action. In all cases the trustee will set a Section 341 Meeting of Creditors.
What our Montgomery bankruptcy attorneys have noticed is that many of our clients become very nervous when they learn that they have to attend the Meeting of Creditors. We always tell our clients prior to signing a bankruptcy petition that this hearing will happen; however, as the date approaches many people become nervous. There is no reason to be nervous or afraid; the Section 341 Meeting of Creditors sounds far more intimidating than it actually is!
About 4 to 6 weeks after your petition is filed, a Section 341 Meeting of Creditors will be held. It is not conducted by a judge, but it is conducted by a bankruptcy trustee. The trustee is always an attorney, and you must be at your hearing at the date and time that it is scheduled! It is very difficult to get a hearing rescheduled, but it can happen when there are extraordinary circumstances. Your attorney is always with you at the Meeting of Creditors.
At the Meeting of Creditors the trustee will ask you questions about the information that is contained within your bankruptcy petition. The trustee will ask if you have listed all your property, and will ask you about the cars, houses, furniture and other assets that you own. Also, the trustee will ask you to estimate your monthly income and what your monthly expenses. You may find some of the questions odd, but these are necessary. Finally, the trustee will ask you questions such as if you've inherited any land or money in the last year or if you expect to inherit any in the next few years; or have you had any windfall such as winning money from the lottery or at the casino. Next, your creditors will be given an opportunity to ask you any questions, but normally creditors do not even attend the meeting.
You must answer all questions truthfully, and the trustee will swear in all witnesses. The Section 341 Meeting of Creditors is usually extremely short. For example, your case may be assigned to start at the 9:00 a.m. Meeting of Creditors. There may be 10 to 12 cases set for a 9:00 hearing. The next meeting will start promptly at 10:00 a.m. When it is time for your actual Meeting of Creditors, you can expect it to last anywhere from three to five minutes. It's a very short, quick process in which you answer questions truthfully, and then the trustee will make a recommendation to the bankruptcy court on how the case should proceed. We tell all of our clients that the worst thing that you can do at your Meeting of Creditors is to lie to the trustee or try to hide assets, income, or debts. We can only make your bankruptcy case move forward with complete honesty. Your bankruptcy trustee is always extremely polite, and he or she will explain any of the questions that you might not understand. The trustee is not there to trick you, but is there to make sure that the information that you provided to your attorney is accurate.
At The Sellers Law Firm, our Montgomery bankruptcy lawyers will always make sure that you are prepared for your Section 341 Meeting of Creditors! All consultations are always free so please feel free to call us! We have offices located in Montgomery, Selma, Greenville, and Troy. Please contact us at 334-LAWYERS (529-9377) or you may use the “text us” link or Contact Form on our website. Remember that doing nothing changes nothing so act today!