Once you file for bankruptcy, you are required to meet with your trustee and creditors before the bankruptcy court can rule to discharge your debts. This meeting is called the "341 meeting," based on the section of the bankruptcy code where it is discussed. It's sometimes also referred to as the meeting of creditors or the creditors' meeting. The 341 meeting is the only time the trustee and creditors can ask you questions while you are under oath and on the record. Failure to appear at this meeting could result in immediate case termination, so it's imperative that you attend.
Many debtors are nervous before the 341 meeting, but it typically lasts only a minute or two. Often, very few (or no) creditors show up, and the meeting ends after the trustee asks a handful of routine questions. In fact, you may find yourself standing dazed and relieved in the hallway just a few minutes after the meeting began. (See more on what you should expect at a 341 meeting).
Once the meeting is over, you may be left wondering what happens next. Although the creditors' meeting is the only court appearance a debtor has to make in most bankruptcy cases, there are still a few things you need to do before you can get your discharge.
Learn more about the 341 Bankruptcy Hearing
After The 341 Meeting
You are not out of the woods yet. After the 341 meeting, you will need to stay on track and satisfy the bankruptcy court's requirements. If you complete all of the requirements, your case will be closed in a matter of months.
Here are the things you may still need to do:
- Make nonexempt property available to the trustee. These are the assets you are not entitled to keep. If the trustee thinks they could be valuable, the trustee will take them, sell them, and divide the proceeds among your creditors.
- Handle any reaffirmed debts. If your bankruptcy plan included reaffirmation (agreeing to new terms on a debt, which will survive your bankruptcy filing), you will need to begin making payments after your 341 meeting. If you aren't represented by a lawyer, you may have to atttend a separate court hearing, at which the bankruptcy judge will review your reaffirmation agreement and decide whether to allow it.
- If you have debts that won't be affected by your bankruptcy filing, such as back taxes or child support obligations, you should continue making payments on those debts.
- Wait for creditors to file challenges. Creditors have 60 days from your filing date to challenge a discharge of your debts.
- Attend a debtor education course. Like the credit counseling you had to complete before filing, debtor education (counseling to help you manage your personal finances, on topics such as budgeting, savings, and credit) is mandatory. After completing counseling, you must file a form with the bankruptcy court.
- Receive your bankruptcy discharge. The discharge generally takes place four to six months after filing. Once you receive your discharge, your case is considered closed.
Every case is different. If you receive any discharge challenges, you may also need to attend additional meetings or hearings to provide your response to each challenge.
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If You're Represented By a Lawyer
If you have a bankruptcy lawyer, the lawyer should attend the meeting of creditors with you. Do not answer questions under oath without your lawyer present. Once the meeting is over, your lawyer can help you determine exactly which payments need to be made and when. Your bankruptcy lawyer can also help you respond to any discharge challenges.