Everyone who files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy must attend a mandatory hearing called the 341 meeting of creditors. But your bankruptcy case isn't over after attending the hearing. Read on to learn more about what to expect after the Chapter 7 bankruptcy meeting of creditors concludes.
If you're unsure of the process, start by gaining a thorough understanding of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy timeline and the steps you'll take in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.
The meeting of creditors gives the Chapter 7 trustee appointed to your case the opportunity to fulfill some of the Chapter 7 trustee's primary duties—that of fact-checking your bankruptcy petition. The trustee looks for red flags that suggest that the debtor engaged in fraudulent activity such as hiding assets or undervaluing property so that exemption laws fully protect it.
Much of this happens when the trustee reviews the 521 documents—the paycheck stubs, bank statements, profit and loss statements, and tax returns each debtor provides before the meeting. The trustee compares the evidence in the documents to the disclosures within the bankruptcy petition itself.
At the 341 meeting, the trustee will continue to assess the case by:
Don't worry too much about problems arising. Your bankruptcy lawyer will likely have already alerted you to anything that might come to the trustee's attention, and have discussed how to handle it.
Creditors can appear at the 341 meeting and ask questions about your financial affairs, too, but creditors rarely attend. The bankruptcy trustee will conclude the hearing after resolving all outstanding issues. Otherwise, the trustee will continue the meeting to another date.
It's common for the bankruptcy trustee to need information specific to your case. Sometimes the trustee will reach out to your attorney before the meeting of creditors in an attempt to solve any issues before the meeting. If not, the bankruptcy trustee will let you know what is needed at the meeting of creditors.
Any number of reasons could arise that prevent the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee from concluding the hearing after the first date set. Or instance, the trustee will keep the meeting open and continue it to another day if one of the following situations applies:
You'll have to appear again on the continued meeting date. However, in some cases, the trustee will cancel the continued meeting once the sought after information is received. You'll want to confirm the cancellation with the trustee's office or your attorney before not appearing.
In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most debtors dread the 341 meeting of creditors and are relieved to find it's simple and over in no time (in the vast majority of cases). However, just because the trustee concludes your meeting doesn't mean that you are immediately entitled to a discharge of qualifying debt.
If you hadn't already done so, you'd need to complete a debtor education course (also called a financial management course) and file the completion certificate. If you don't do it, the court will dismiss your case without prejudice (you can file again immediately). You'd have to pay another filing fee to reopen the case and file your certificate before receiving the debt discharge.
Also, creditors can still file objections to your discharge within 60 days of the first date set for your meeting of creditors, although this rarely happens. If no creditor objects by the deadline and you've satisfied all other requirements, you'll receive your discharge in the mail.