Tearing your hair apart when you find yourself drowning in debts is certainly not going to make the situation any better. You do have to take stock of your situation and try to get out of the legal wrangle as best as you can. One way to earn a respite in such a situation is by filing for bankruptcy.
If you think if you file for bankruptcy you have to attend the US bankruptcy court frequently, thankfully that’s not the case. Chances of you never ever setting foot into the hallowed building are definitely possible.
However, you may have to attend a meeting that will hardly take more than 15 minutes of your time. The 341 meeting, as it’s called, is all important though and you must make sure to attend it accompanied by your bankruptcy lawyer. Do not be scared by the umpteen number of horror stories circulating around, however. A legal professional would certainly be the best person to help you in understanding bankruptcy along with the pros and cons even before you file.
Facts about the 341 meeting
This meeting, also known as the ‘creditors meeting’ is fairly informal and you need not be concerned about maintaining formality at all. The bankruptcy attorney representing you will be sure to inform you about the do’s and don’ts though. Rest assured, the meeting will take place in presence of all or some the creditors as well as a trustee appointed for overseeing your case. You will find the trustee questioning you closely about the debts that caused you to contemplate bankruptcy and you should answer them honestly.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Do not be alarmed to find a number of questions asked about the value of the property in your name that is not exempt. In other words, you will have to reveal everything that you own at the moment. The trustee will make sure to consider the value of each property and decide whether they can be sold off in order to obtain the outstanding amount that you owe the creditors.
Be sure to reveal every detail pertaining to your income and expenses truthfully. Most 341 meetings are wrapped up in a straightforward manner. You will hardly have to spend more than 5-10 minutes answering the questions, therefore. A word of caution here though! You would be well advised to discuss the entire matter with a bankruptcy lawyer of repute before attending the ‘creditors meeting.’ This will prepare you for the questions you are likely to face at the meeting.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
While the meeting is likely to include almost everything discussed in a meeting based on Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, this one may require a few additional minutes for discussing the adjustment procedures. So, go ahead and feel free to speak about your expenses and income.
Your plan for repayment would also be discussed at length by the trustee. There is certainly a chance of all your creditors who will be keen to attend this meeting in order to ensure that each of them is treated at par during repayment. Relax! This meeting will be as informal as the 341 meeting as well.
A ‘confirmation hearing’ is almost sure to be held shortly after the ‘creditors meeting.’ It will be held at the ‘US Bankruptcy Court’ where your proposed plan for repaying your creditors will be discussed extensively and approved by the concerned professional. There is absolutely no need for you to be present at the hearing though. Your legal representative can act on your behalf.
You can choose not to visit the court for bankruptcy proceedings while your case is up for discussion. Yet there are certain instances when your presence becomes mandatory. You just cannot avoid entering the courtroom when one of the creditors accuses you of committing a fraud.
Likewise, you may also have to go to the court when a creditor is not satisfied with the exemptions that you claim during filing a bankruptcy. Unfortunately, falling behind your repayment plan may cause a creditor to request an intervention of the court. You will also have to obtain a court approval if you want to make amendments to the proposed plan later on as well.
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