The bankruptcy process is riddled with many documents, meetings and steps that must be completed in order to obtain a debt discharge. The initial step in the bankruptcy process is to complete a bankruptcy petition, which lists all of the debts, assets, income and expenses. The petition, along with several other schedules and documents, outline your financial details. This information must be accurate and the creditors have the right to review this information before the case continues. You and the trustee are given the opportunity to review the information regarding debts at the Meeting of Creditors.
What To Expect
This meeting, also called the 341 Meeting of Creditors, is conducted between you, the creditors and the bankruptcy trustee. In this meeting, the trustee may question you about the information that was provided while under oath. Creditors may also be given an opportunity to ask questions, but are generally limited by the trustee. In many cases, the creditors may not even attend the meeting unless they are a government agency such as the IRS. The purpose of the meeting is to clarify your financial details and allow for any changes or additions to be made before the case proceeds to the bankruptcy court. If you intend on surrendering any assets to satisfy a debt, this information will be documented on a Statement of Intentions. However, do not sign anything unless your bankruptcy attorney has reviewed it and agreed.
If you are filing bankruptcy with a spouse or partner, they should also attend the meeting. Anyone listed in the initial filing should be in attendance and will be questioned by the trustee. If there have been any changes in the marital status, division of assets or debts since the initial filing, the trustee will need to make note of these changes in the bankruptcy documents. The trustee will also need any information about spousal or child support payments that you or your spouse is responsible for paying.
After all parties are in agreement the information is accurate and complete, the meeting will conclude. The conclusion is the most important part in a Chapter 7 case, as the trustee will determine if the case will proceed as a “no asset” or “no distribution” case. A no asset case means that your assets will not be divided among creditors in order to satisfy the debt. In this case, your case will be discharged soon after, leaving you with a fresh start to rebuild your financial future.