What to Expect in Bankruptcy Court: The Meeting of Creditors


Photo courtesy of Richard Rutter

Also known as a 341 hearing (named after section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code), this meeting will include the trustee who is handling your case, any creditors to whom you are indebted, your attorney, and you.

It can be quite stressful and anxiety inducing waiting for your 341 hearing. Appearing in court is never something you should take lightly, but the Meeting of Creditors is actually a lot less intimidating than it sounds. Instead of appearing before a judge, this hearing will be handled by the trustee. Although creditors are welcome to attend this meeting, very few actually make an appearance.

When you and your attorney file for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in the State of New Jersey, a trustee will be assigned to your case. The duties of a bankruptcy trustee are to review the case in order to determine whether or not you have appropriately met all of the required criteria. Consequently, the trustee will ultimately be the one to decide if you are qualified for a discharge of your debts.

Once your case has been filed with the court and assigned a trustee, your 341 hearing (Meeting of Creditors) will usually take place about a month later.

The meeting will take place in the courthouse where your bankruptcy petition has been filed. As a general rule, debtors are assigned to the County Court in which they reside. There are exceptions, however, and the court may assign your particular case to a different New Jersey vicinage if he or she feels it would be more appropriately heard elsewhere.

During the Meeting of Creditors, it is usually in your best interest to speak as little as possible. The trustee assigned to your case will question you. We advise our clients to answer with yes or no answers when at all suitable. Doing so avoids giving the trustee any reason to ask additional questions.

Be honest in your answers, but be concise and as accurate as possible without volunteering any additional outside information that the trustee may use as a launchpad to begin a completely new and different line of questioning.

We always remind our clients that the 341 hearing is not an interrogation. It is solely for fact finding purposes regarding the contents of the bankruptcy schedules, which are the important documents that make up the bulk of your bankruptcy petition. The trustee needs to verify that all of the information on your paperwork is valid. Typically, these meetings are short and routine.

For more information about filing for bankruptcy in New Jersey, contact us at Veitengruber Law today.

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