Bankruptcy refers to a legal proceeding through which individuals and companies may petition a court to extinguish debts or to reorganize or restructure debts. You may have heard of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 11 bankruptcy, or Chapter 13, bankruptcy. “Chapter” refers to the location of the bankruptcy provisions in the Bankruptcy Code. There are other, less common chapters under which bankruptcy may be filed as well.
The Extinguishing of Debts
Bankruptcy proceedings that extinguish debt only extinguish some debts. These debts include credit card debt but not child support obligations. A person may keep much or all of his or her property upon filing bankruptcy. A determination must be made as to whether the property is “exempt” or “non-exempt.” Many people only have property or assets that are exempt.
The Automatic Stay
Upon filing a bankruptcy petition, there will be an automatic stay placed on debt collection efforts. Most actions otherwise taken by debt collectors and collection agencies may not be taken after notification of the automatic stay.
The Section 341 Meeting with Creditors
There will be quite a bit of information you must provide with your bankruptcy petition. In addition, there will be meetings and hearings regarding your bankruptcy petition and filings.
One of those meetings is called a section 341 meeting. This is also called the meeting of creditors or creditor’s meeting. This meeting is a meeting that a debtor is required to attend after filing bankruptcy.
The meeting is conducted by the case trustee or the U.S. Trustee. The debtor must appear at this meeting and testify, under oath, about his financial condition, assets and debts. The debtor will be asked about the information he has placed on his bankruptcy paperwork. Creditors may also attend this meeting and question the debtor, although the meeting is directed by the trustee assigned to the case and most of the questions originate with him. If a debtor fails to attend the meeting, his bankruptcy case can be dismissed.
If you are unable to attend the creditor’s meeting on the day it is scheduled, you must contact the Trustee assigned to your case and request the matter be continued. The Bankruptcy Clerk’s Office cannot answer any question about changes to the 341 Meeting of Creditors. All questions about this meeting must be directed to the Trustee assigned to the case or the U.S. Trustee’s Office. The Office of the United States Trustee is an Executive Branch agency that is part of the Department of Justice. It is responsible for monitoring the administration of bankruptcy cases and detecting bankruptcy fraud. It has other responsibilities as well.