A section 341 meeting of the creditors is held at which the debtor must appear and answer questions after the bankruptcy petition is filed. In my district, the Eastern District of Michigan, the hearing is typically held about four to five weeks after the case is filed. At that hearing, the debtor is questioned under oath by a trustee. The trustee is not a judge.
The trustee is usually an attorney appointed in all chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases. The trustee’s responsibilities include reviewing the debtor’s petition and schedules and to recover or seize non-exempt assets. In a chapter 7, the trustee liquidates property of the estate, and makes distributions to creditors. The chapter 13 trustee is typically more interested in maximizing the monthly payment made by the debtor.
Typically in our district, before the meeting the attorney will have sent pay stubs, tax returns, deeds, titles, retirement statements, and bank account histories to the trustee for review. The trustee reviews the petition and financial disclosures before the hearing. The more information the trustee has in advance, the smoother the hearing will go and the less likely the trustee will be forced to adjourn the meeting to a new date for the debtor to produce supplemental information.
As this is the only court hearing most clients have, they are stressed out but it’s not as bad as they may think. Debtors are not scolded for being irresponsible and creditors don’t usually show up. Hearings are scheduled in 30 minute blocks of time. The debtors go into a common room and wait to have their case called. Once called, the debtor and their attorney sit at a table with the trustee. Sometimes the trustee has an assistant to help keep the case files organized. The debtor must present a state issued ID and a social security card. No card – no hearing – no questions. Better make sure you have it.
The trustee will ask you questions like:
- Did you read, understand, and sign the bankruptcy petition and related schedules?
- Did you read and understand the bankruptcy information sheet?
- Did you list all of your assets, debts, and creditors?
- Do you have any reason to sue anyone?
- Does anyone owe you any money?
- Do you expect an inheritance from anyone who has died?
- Have you paid back any of your creditors in the 90 days before you filed your case?
- Did you get your tax refund back? What did you do with it?
- Did you pay back and friends or family before your case was filed?
It all takes about five minutes and before you know it, the hearing is over. There really isn’t anything to worry about. If you have a decent lawyer, you will be able to answer all of the questions without any problem. About two months after the hearing the order of discharge will come in the mail. It’s not as bad as you think but you won’t believe me until it’s over.
“S’ also stands for:
- Schedules and Statements
- Security Interest
- Statement of Intention
- Statutory Lien
- Step Plan
- Student Loans
- Student Loans
- Small Claims
Chris McAvoy is a Taylor, Michigan attorney and consumer bankruptcy lawyer who helps people file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. To find out more about bankruptcy, click here for contact info. We help people in Taylor, Allen Park, Southgate, Lincoln Park, Riverview, Trenton, Flat Rock, Wyandotte, Brownstown, Belleville, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, and the Downriver, Michigan area.